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Rory McIlroy is well-placed to mount a challenge at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open over the weekend after posting a second-round 70 to sit just a shot off the clubhouse lead.
McIlroy has missed the last three cuts at his home event but he ensured he will be around for the weekend by taking full advantage of the good conditions at The K Club.
Sitting five-under at the start of his second round, the world number three moved to six-under with a birdie at the par-four 13th, his fourth hole of the day, to move within two of the leader Danny Willett before the Masters champion, playing in the group behind, bogeyed the same hole.
Willett's lead was wiped out when he bogeyed the 15th but he edged back in front with a birdie at the par-five 16th just as McIlroy was dropping a shot at the 17th.
McIlroy reduced the gap again with a birdie on the 18th only for Willett to pick up a shot at the same hole, but it was the four-time major winner who fared marginally better after the turn with a birdie at the first to reduce the deficit.
After a bogey at the second, Willett picked up shots at the fourth and fifth before dropping a shot on the seventh to come home in level par, while McIlroy's birdie at the fourth came in between bogeys at the third and fifth. He closed with a birdie at the par-four ninth to sign for a 70 to sit just one stroke behind Willett and Marc Warren.
Warren carded seven birdies on his way to a six-under 66 with his only drop shot coming on the par-four fifth, his 14th hole of the day.
"It was a little bit erratic in places," McIlroy said. "I gave myself plenty of chances and took care of most of the par-fives but made too many mistakes.
"I missed a few more greens because I missed a few more fairways so I need to tidy that up but 70 was not a bad score this morning.
"I knew I was coming in here playing pretty well so I never thought the cut was going to be an issue. I'm excited to be up there with a chance to win.
"To have the Masters champion and me both up there, it's shaping up to be a great weekend."
Willett, meanwhile, was pleased with his day's work at the County Kildare course.
"It wasn't bad, a little bit scrappy," Willett said.
"It was windy at times and there were a couple of sneakier flags out there as well so you can't come off being joint leader and be too unhappy."