McGrane chasing McIlroy in Dubai
Damien McGrane. Picture Eoin Clarke

Damien McGrane. Picture Eoin Clarke

Damien McGrane shot a two under 70 to keep Rory McIroy in his sights in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

The Kells man, 42, followed his opening 66 with three birdies and just one dropped shot this morning to get to eight under par and share third place just three strokes behind McIlroy, who birdied the last for a 70 and a one shot lead over American Brooks Koepka (65) on 11-under par.

"I played nicely again today but the putter didn't work as well and I missed a few fairways as wel," he told European Tour Radio's Nick Dye. "But it keeps me there or thereabouts, which is what it's all about on Thursday and Friday, isn't it. 

"I kept it simple as best I could, I stuck to my game-plan and the weather is beautiful so it yields plenty of opportunities. If the flat stick works you have a great chance to make plenty of birdies out there.

"I enjoy the course. It is not all about length — it's about strategy and positioning — I enjoy the course and I always enjoy my three weeks in Dubai. 

"I have fond memories of the place — that's going back a few years now — but the course changes from year to year and I am that little bit older so I possibly have to work that little bit harder."

McGrane has fond memories of the 2008 Dubai Desert Classic, when he partnered Tiger Woods in the third and fourth rounds - outscoring him on Saturday (72-73) only to shoot 79 as Woods fired a 65 on the final day to win the title.

"I played with him on the weekend, so that was a good buzz at the time," McGrane said. 

"I will probably need to do the same again or slightly better so it's all ahead of me now... I've been playing okay lately and I'm just waiting to string it together to be honest."