(Reuters) - Ernie Els enjoyed a return to form as he moved to within a shot of the lead at the Dubai Desert Classic after the second round on Friday, but defending champion and world number two Rory McIlroy slipped off the pace.
Els, a four-times major winner and record three-times champion in Dubai, shot a five-under-par 67, which included an eagle on the 18th, to move to nine under for the tournament, a shot adrift of Spain's Rafael Cabrera-Bello.
Cabrera-Bello, the 2012 champion in Dubai, birdied the last for a second consecutive 67.
South Africa's Els, who has endured struggles with his short putting game and has been working with a changed grip, is in a three-way tie for second with Britain's Danny Willett (65) and compatriot Trevor Fisher (68).
It was a frustrating day for four-times major winner McIlroy, who offset five birdies with five bogeys for a level-par round of 72 that left him six shots back of the lead.
(Reporting by Toby Davis; Editing by Frank Pingue)