After his second delay of the week due to flooding at Emirates Golf Club, McIlroy returned to the course facing a short birdie putt on the par-three seventh, his 16th hole.
The world number one calmly holed out from four feet, then chipped out of a fairway bunker on the eighth for an unexpected eagle and completed his morning’s work with another birdie on the tricky ninth.
He carded a six-under-par 66 for the two-time winner that was matched by Reid’s impressive style, with the former Masters champion hitting a 15-footer for eagle on the par-five 18th to finish on the other side of the course.
“Not too good to be honest,” McIlroy said when asked to assess his overall performance. “I struggled there for the most part yesterday.
“I thought I did well to be at par by the end of the day. I competed after some very sloppy, rusty golf on the first stretch of 14 holes.
“And then today I came out and I don’t really know if anything clicked because I don’t think I hit enough shots to know. But it was definitely needed.
“I would have been happy with the way I played around 70, and then to come in and shoot 66 is quite a bonus.”
As for the eagle on the eighth, McIlroy added: “I wouldn’t say I’m the best fairway bunker player in the world. The desert is a little better, it’s a little more crowded, so you have to be a little better. Lies are found.
“I was just thinking about clearing it. As soon as I hit it, I knew it went really well and it was right under the pin. Again, the 20-footer. Anything inside, I would have been happy, so that was definitely a bonus.”
Reed finished his first-round 16 holes in four under on Thursday and resumed with a par on the short par-four 17th before a closing eagle on Friday.
“I’m obviously very happy with the way I played,” Reid said. “I felt like last week wasn’t really a reflection of all the hard work I’ve been putting in in the offseason. It was getting rusty when playing tournament golf.
“So coming out this week and feeling like I was able to put everything together and get my mind right on game planning and course management was definitely a plus.”
The pre-tournament build-up has been dominated by a war of words between Reed and McIlroy, which erupted after Reed threw a tee at McIlroy after being snapped by the world number one on the practice range.
McIlroy said he had not seen the tee but was unimpressed by the presentation on Christmas Eve by the lawyer who is representing Reed in a defamation suit against several media members and organizations.
McIlroy’s plea is related to a separate civil lawsuit filed by Larry Kleiman in June, which claims that Florida residents who purchased tickets to PGA Tour events, or will in the future, were allegedly defrauded by the PGA Tour. But the field was weakened by suspending the players who joined the LIV.
Reid, who joined LIV during its inaugural event in June, told reporters that the subpoena — which Clayman also tried to serve on Tiger Woods — “has nothing to do with me and these lawsuits.” has anything to do with that I’m a part of.” and labeled McIlroy “an immature little kid”.