Rory McIlroy – still the man to beat – Getty Images

The three Australians to have made the field for the season ending event on this year’s European Tour, the DP World Tour Championship, find themselves well off the pace through the halfway stage of the event being played over the earth Course at the Jumeirah Estates in Dubai.

Jason Scrivener is the best of them in 20th place at 4 under and six off the lead currently held by Ireland’s Shane Lowry, England’s Sam Horsfield and American John Catlin.

The leading trio is just one head two-time winner of the event Rory McIlroy and Sweden’s Alexander Bjork.

Scrivener, who finished the regular season in 15th place in the Race to Dubai standings, returned from an unsuccessful attempt to gain his full status on the Korn Ferry Tour two weeks ago, added a second round of 69 although a bogey at the par 5 last was a disappointing way to end an otherwise good day.

Lucas Herbert and Min Woo Lee, both winner on the European Tour this season, are another shot behind Scrivener after they too had recorded rounds of 69 to be seven from the lead.

Lee was in 5th place in the race to Dubai standings heading into the week and will need a strong weekend if he is to contend for a share of the US$5 million bonus pool paid to the leading five players in the Race to Dubai.

Herbert, who now has the luxury of full status on both the European and PGA Tours and who has won on both in 2021, double bogeyed the 12th but, that aside, it was a solid round.

While McIlroy is one off the lead, he shapes as the player to beat over the weekend having double bogeyed his final hole today after finding the water with his third shot to drop out of the lead. Having won the event in 2012 and 2015 and coming off a last start win on the PGA Tour the 32 year old appears well placed to make it three wins in the lucrative ($US9 million) event.

“I’m playing nicely, said McIlroy. “I started well again today and hit a lot of good shots on the front nine. It was sort of a little scrappy around the middle but was able to hang in there with my short game.

“Hit a nice one on 16. So the good stuff is in there. It’s just a matter of, yeah, I mean, I still feel like I played well and I feel like 70 is sort of the worst I could have shot today, especially with the finish and hopefully that’s the bad one out of the way.”