Brushing of sand costs McIlroy dearly

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golf: Rory McIlroy promised never to make the same mistake again after a two-shot penalty cost him a share of the halfway lead at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Northern Ireland’s US Open champion would have been alongside Dane Thorbjorn Olesen but for brushing sand away from his line on the ninth hole of his second round.

That would have been all right if it had been on the green, but he was six feet off the putting surface and world No 1 Luke Donald instantly brought it to his attention.

“I wasn’t thinking clearly and just made a very stupid mental mistake,” McIlroy said following a level-par 72 that left him tied for fourth on five under and part of a group including Tiger Woods.

Hull’s Richard Finch joined Woods and McIlroy on five under par after shooting a one-under 71.

Donald remained deep in the pack on one under with a 72, while Lee Westwood survived the cut with two strokes to spare despite a neck problem.

At three over with six to play the world No 2 looked in trouble, but he was able to produce a hat-trick of birdies.

Olesen still has a host of players snapping at his heels and leads by a shot from McIlroy’s fellow Ulsterman Gareth Maybin and Italian teenager Matteo Manassero, who shot a best-of-the-week 65.

Malton’s Simon Dyson is level par after a second successive round of 72, but Sheffield’s Danny Willett missed the cut after adding a 74 to Thursday’s 75.

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