DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Rory McIlroy closed with a birdie Friday and retained the lead at the European Tour's Dubai Desert Classic.
McIlroy had an early bogey but ended up with a 4-under-par 68 and is at 11-under 133 halfway through the tournament. Thomas Aiken and Sergio Garcia each shot 5-under 67 for the second consecutive day and cut McIlroy's lead to one stroke. Garcia hasn't had a bogey in the tournament.
Steve Webster (68 Friday) is in alone fourth place at 8-under. Tiger Woods, on the strength of a 6-under 66, pulled into a five-way tie for fifth at 7-under, four strokes behind McIlroy.
McIlroy opened Friday's play with a two-stroke lead over Aiken and Garcia but lost it with a second-hole bogey and was still 1-over after six holes. He had birdies at Nos. 7 and 9 and added birdies at 12 and 15. A closing 4 on the par-5, 564-yard 18th hole gave him the outright lead.
Woods, ranked third in the world, played the first two days with world No. 1 Lee Westwood and second-ranked Martin Kaymer -- the first time the world's Top 3 golfers played in the same group. Woods followed a first-round 1-under 71 with a bogey-free round Friday. Westwood is at 5-under for the tournament after a 2-under 70. Kaymer is tied for 20th at 4-under after a 71.