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Thomas Pieters, Michael Thorbjornsen and Richard Bland have a share of the lead at -10 after two rounds of the Dubai Desert Classic. While Bland and Pieters have been very consistent over the opening two days of action with two rounds of 67 each, Thorbjornsen shot a phenomenal 64 on Friday to catapult himself up the leaderboard.
Ian Poulter, who led the tournament after the opening round thanks to a score of 65, could only manage a 71 on day two but is still well in contention on -8 for the week. The Englishman is looking to keep his Ryder Cup hopes alive despite his move to LIV Golf.
For the leaders, it was all about getting hot at the right time. Thorbjonsen came out of the blocks flying and hit five birdies on the opening six holes while Pieters birdied seven of the final nine holes. Both players will be hoping for similar streaks over the weekend as they battle it out for the $1.5m first prize.
Mcilroy in touching distance of the leaders
World number one, Rory Mcilroy, is playing in his first event of the year and will be pleased with how his opening two rounds have gone. The Northern Irishman followed up an opening round of 66 with a 70 on day two and is 7th in the leaderboard, two shots behind the three leaders.
Mcilroy will be delighted with his 70 considering his shots off the tee were inconsistent to say the least, throughout the entirety of day two. He only found two fairways throughout his second round, and even had to take a drop on a par-five after finding the bushes on the tenth hole.
Thankfully, for Mcilroy, his short game was on fire which meant he still managed to end his round under par. Highlights of his round included a 20-foot birdie putt on the third hole and a 33-foot monster putt on the 13th for an eagle.
THERE HE IS!
Eagle for Rory McIlroy at 13th 🦅 #HeroDDC pic.twitter.com/0hDNGpg8s9
— Sky Sports Golf (@SkySportsGolf) January 28, 2023
After his round, Mcilroy admitted that he needs to improve his ball control off the tee but was pleased with how he still managed to scramble a 70. He said:
“When you can’t hit fairways around here and the rough is quite thick, it’s very hard to have any control of your ball and get it close intro par-fours. I need to go and do a little work.
I chipped and putted it well and I sort of got myself around the golf course okay. Being able to post a couple of decent scores and at least have a chance going into the last two days, but definitely more negatives than positives and I need to go and figure it out on the range.”
Reed and Mcilroy neck and neck
Patrick Reed, a long-time rival of Mcilroy’s is another player tied for 7th place on eight-under-par. Like Mcilroy, the American carded a 66 on the opening day followed by a 70 on day two.
Tournament organisers have resisted the temptation of pairing the two together for round three, though. Prior to the tournament, the hostility between the two players appeared to reach boiling point when Reed threw a tee at Mcilroy and called him an “immature little child.”