Cameron Young opens up three-shot lead at Dubai Desert Classic

American fires second round 64 at Emirates Golf Club with Andy Sullivan and Adrian Meronk his nearest challengers

Cameron Young is 13 under after two rounds at the Dubai Desert Classic. AFP
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Cameron Young opened up a three-shot lead on his nearest challengers after Round 2 of the Dubai Desert Classic on Friday.

The American added a second round of 64 to his opening 67 at Emirates Golf Club to reach 13 under par, with England’s Andy Sullivan and Poland’s Adrian Meronk his nearest challengers on 10 under.

Young, who has yet to win on the PGA Tour or DP World Tour, carded nine birdies and a solitary bogey on the ninth, his final hole of the day, after finding the water left of the green with his approach.

“I putted fantastic,” the world No 25 said. “I made a couple of long ones yesterday and then made a few more today that had no right going in I feel like.

“I hit a bunch of good putts, but just one of those days where you kind of have a couple of 30-footers and you look up and they are going right in the middle, which doesn’t happen all that often to have a bunch of them in one round.

“I’m doing a really good job of staying out of my own way. Kind of realised it was going well early, but the back nine, at the same time, it feels like you should do that to some extent, especially in the morning with not much wind.”

Meronk, recently crowned the European tour’s player of 2023, carded a 66 to improve on his opening round by two shots. “The experience [of winning] gives you a little more confidence that you’ve done it before, so you can do it again,” the Pole said.

“The key is just to stick to your plan for your game, trust your shots, full commitment. Don’t get too ahead of yourself.”

Sullivan holed five birdies on the front nine to card a five-under-par 67, while Nicolai Hojgaard hit an eagle at the 17th to join his twin brother Rasmus and Scotland's Richie Ramsay on seven-under-par overall.

Masahiro Kawamura looked on course to threaten Ernie Els's course record of 61, set in 1994, with five birdies and an eagle on his first six holes, and was 10-under after 12, but the Japanese player lost momentum to card a nine-under 63.

Nevertheless, that was a 12-shot improvement on his opening round and lifted Kawamura into a tie for seventh on six under par alongside overnight leader Haotong Li and six others.

England's Tommy Fleetwood, who won last week's Dubai Invitational after a late McIlroy capitulation, celebrated his 33rd birthday with a 70 to finish five under.

Defending champion Rory McIlroy remained well off the pace with the world No 2 recording five birdies and three bogeys in a round of 70 which left him 10 strokes off the lead.

European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald, 46 hit a hole-in-one on the par three fourth hole as he shot a second consecutive 71.

“My eyesight is not that good these days,” Donald said. “I couldn't see it but I saw some people behind the green jumping up and down.”

Updated: January 19, 2024, 3:43 PM