Rory McIlroy trails leader Graeme Storm by three shots at South African Open

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Rory McIlroy battles on despite back injury
South African Open, Glendower Golf Club, Johannesburg
- 12 G Storm (Eng), -10 P Uihlein (US), Jbe Kruger (SA), T Fisher jnr (SA) -9 L Canter (Eng), J L Smith (Eng), K Horne (SA), R McIlroy (NI), D Drysdale (Sco) Selected others: -7 O Fisher (Eng), -6 M Foster (Eng), -4 S Dyson (Eng), +1 N Faldo (Eng)
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Rory McIlroy lies three shots behind leader Graeme Storm after the second round of the South African Open.

McIlroy carded a four-under-par 68 to end on nine under, with England's Storm 12 under after a bogey-free round of 63 in which he posted nine birdies.

McIlroy's eventful round saw him register an eagle, seven birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey on Friday.

After his round, the world number two revealed that he almost pulled out of the tournament with a back injury.

"I was actually thinking about pulling out before even going off today as I've tweaked my back somehow and the first few shots weren't very comfortable," said McIlroy.

"It's still not very comfortable - I can't really take a deep breath because I've done something to my upper back.

"I'm going to get some treatment now and taking that into consideration, I played well and kept at it. Hopefully I'll feel a bit better tomorrow."

American Peter Uihlein and South Africans Jbe Kruger and Trevor Fisher Jnr are two off the lead on 10 under.

Faldo misses cut

Nick Faldo, making a rare appearance on the European Tour, missed the cut on one over after a 75.

The 59-year-old six-time major winner had begun the tournament in Johannesburg with a promising round of 70.

Another former European Ryder Cup captain, Darren Clarke, is set to miss the cut as he lay four over after completing 17 holes when play was halted late in the day because of a threat of lightning.

McIlroy finds himself in a tie for fifth place, along with England pair Louis Canter and Jordan L Smith, Scotland's David Drysdale and South African Keith Horne.

In a topsy-turvy round, the Northern Irishman started poorly with a birdie at the second sandwiched between a dropped shot at the second and a double bogey six at the fourth.

An eagle three followed at the eighth, then a scintillating sequence of six birdies in seven holes to move into contention near the top of the leaderboard.

Bogeys at the 17th and 18th holes marred his round but McIlroy remains in the running to begin 2017 with a victory.

"The middle part of my round was good - I saw some putts go in and got some momentum which was really nice.

"I'm disappointed to have finished the way I did - the start and finish were not great but everything in between was pretty good. It's nice to be in contention going into the weekend."

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