Justin Rose shot 3-under 69 on Friday to remain atop the leaderboard after two rounds of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
Rose, the world No. 5, finished 36 holes at 8-under-par 136 at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. He is looking for his sixth European Tour title.
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy were in the feature group, but both missed the cut. Woods had carded a 1-over 73 to make it to the weekend, but was assessed a two-stroke penalty for a bad drop. His score changed to a 3-over 75, which put him one over the cut line at 3-over-par 147.
McIlroy, in his first event with his new Nike clubs, failed to get anything going again. He posted his second straight 75 to end at plus-6, which left him four shots outside the cut line.
"A little disappointed, obviously. Every year that I've played here, I've gotten off to a good start and I've played well in this tournament, but that's the way it is," McIlroy said on TV. "I need to go to the range and work on a few things. I didn't feel like I swung the club well at all the last few days."
Woods had bogeyed three of the first four holes, before pushing his drive into a bush right of the fairway at No. 5. He thought his ball was embedded, and asked Martin Kaymer, the third player in the group, for assistance.
Kaymer agreed the ball was embedded so Woods took a drop, then blasted out. He walked off with another bogey. Woods rallied with birdies at eight and 10.
Officials asked Woods about the drop on the 11th, and that may have had a role in him bogeying that hole. Woods poured in three consecutive birdies to get back to even-par. However, he bogeyed 17 and parred the last to end at plus-1. Prior to signing his scorecard, Woods again spoke with officials and it was determined he broke a rule.
"On five, I called Martin over to confirm the ball was embedded. We both agreed it was, but evidently it was in sand and Andy (McFee) ruled I broke an infraction there, and consequently I got a two-shot penalty," Woods said in a televised interview. "Andy feels the way he feels about it, then I broke the rules. Andy said the ball wasn't embedded because it was sandy based.
"I didn't get off to a good start, but fought to get it back. I thought if I posted even-par I'd have a chance going into the weekend."
McFee, the European Tour's chief referee, stated: "Tiger hit his tee shot on No. 5 way out to the right. When he got to the ball, he called Martin over because he thought he had an embedded ball. Martin agreed so Tiger proceeded under the embedded ball rule and played on. No referee was involved.
"It was only later a couple spectators, who had seen that, were walking past a referee and asked why Tiger got a drop. The referee didn't know. He asked me, and I went and looked at the area. The embedded ball rule does not apply in that area."
Rose leads by one over Jamie Donaldson (70), Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (67) and Thorbjorn Olesen (69), who all stand at minus-7.
Garth Mulroy (68) and Joost Luiten (69) share fifth place at 5-under 139.
Rose played the back nine first on Friday and had eight pars with one birdie on his opening nine.
The Englishman wrapped birdies at two and four around a bogey on the third. After four pars in a row, Rose birdied the par-4 ninth for the second day in a row to end at minus-8.
"It was perfect scoring conditions out there. I felt I played much better today. I hit the ball pin-high probably eight times today, so I had good distance control with my irons," Rose said. "I've been driving the ball well so far. I've been very pleased with that round."
NOTES: Last year's winner Robert Rock withdrew before the second round due to illness ... Among those that missed the 2-over 146 cut line were newly named European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, Colin Montgomerie, Jose Maria Olazabal, Darren Clarke, Edoardo Molinari and his brother, Francesco.