Tiger Woods falls 8 shots back

Updated: January 31, 2014, 12:44 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Despite a skydiving competitor soaring up the leaderboard, it was Rory McIlroy who had the up-and-down day while keeping a one-stroke lead at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on Friday.

[+] EnlargeRory McIlroy
Warren Little/Getty ImagesRory McIlroy had an up-and-down day in Dubai but still had a hold on the lead after a second-round 70.

McIlroy, who began the round with a two-shot lead, bogeyed the first hole before reeling off four birdies to get to 12 under through 10 holes. He bogeyed Nos. 13 and 16, however, before a birdie at the last for a 2-under 70. He is 11 under for the event.

American Brooks Koepka, who earned his European Tour card last year by winning three times on the Challenge Tour, made seven birdies against no bogeys for a 65 that left him one shot behind McIlroy going into the weekend.

Tiger Woods, meanwhile, hit only four fairways and had to rely on some key putts to salvage a 73. He was in a tie for 44th, eight shots out of the lead.. He is 3 under for the tournament, two above a cut line which removed Ernie Els, John Daly, Jose Maria Olazabal and Mark O'Meara.

McIlroy appeared to be in control at Emirates Golf Club, leading by three shots after his birdie at No. 10. But he drove wildly into the waste area on the par-5 13th and the par-4 16th holes, both leading to bogeys, before recovering on the 18th.

"It was nice to birdie the last and at least give myself a one-shot lead going into tomorrow," McIlroy said. "I will just go back tonight and sort of regroup and realize I am still leading the tournament. I was more frustrated on the back nine, as the back nine is where you want to build your score after playing the harder front nine."

English golfer Danny Willett, who began his week by jumping out of a plane at 4,000 meters (13,000 feet), had a 65 and shared third place with Damien McGrane of Ireland (70) and Julien Quesne of France (70).

Willett, along with his wife and caddie, undertook the assisted sky dive on Monday, free-falling for the first 300 meters (1,000 feet) in aid of two U.K. charities.

"If you stand on the first tee, trying to hit a drive into the fairway seemed a little bit less nerve-racking than jumping out of a plane at 13,000 feet," Willett said. "You never know, might have prepared us quite well."

Henrik Stenson, who won the Race to Dubai and the FedEx Cup last year, had a 67 and was four shots behind.

Woods, trying to join Els as the only three-time winners of the Dubai Desert Classic, opened with a birdie on his third hole and the highlights were few after that. His only other birdie was on the par-3 11th, with a shot into 2 feet.

Koepka is in his first full season on the European Tour. He came close to winning the Frys.com Open last autumn in America before struggling on the back nine. He is roommates in Florida with another American on the European Tour, Peter Uihlein, who bogeyed his last hole to miss the cut.

"Winning is winning," said Koepka, who has four Challenge Tour wins. "I've been able to do it on the Challenge Tour, so hopefully I can get it done with week."

It should be more difficult with McIlroy, a two-time major champion, starting to regain his form. McIlroy ended a year without winning in December when he edged Adam Scott at the Australian Open. He finished one shot behind in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago.

"I'm leading the golf tournament. I've been in this position before and I've went on to win," McIlroy said. "I've led from the front quite well in tournaments that I have won. I feel like I am still playing well and I know the course just as well as anyone else. I'm now expecting to go out there and shoot two good scores over the weekend and hopefully lift the trophy."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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