Rising star Dan Bradbury follows Abu Dhabi ace with stunning round at Dubai Desert Classic

Young Englishman forgets car-shipping issues as he cards 9-under par round - leapfrogging Rory McIlroy in the process

Dan Bradbury of England during the continuation of round two on day three of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club on Saturday, January 28, 2023. Getty
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Almost everyone involved in the Hero Dubai Desert Classic has had to alter their plans this week, after inclement weather caused it to be a five-day tournament, rather than four.

For Dan Bradbury, though, dealing with logistical issues is becoming a theme.

On Sunday, the young Englishman landed himself a new car when he aced in the 17th at Yas Links in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

The manufacturers, Genesis, only deliver within the UAE, meaning he is still working out how to get the G70 Shooting Brake 2.0 Sport back home to his native Yorkshire.

“I’m sure we will get something sorted,” Bradbury, 23, said.

“I don’t have a car at home, so we will go with that option instead. I drive my dad’s old VW Estate. It is still running.

“A lot of people have sent messages saying I can give them a lift here and there.”

The shipping headache provided no distraction whatsoever on day three – and round two – in Dubai.

Playing just his sixth DP World Tour event, and his second Rolex Series tournament in the space of two weeks, Bradbury burnt up the Majlis with a stunning second round.

After reaching the turn in 31, it felt as though Ernie Els’s course record of 61 could be under threat. He coolled over the closing holes, finishing with four successive pars, but still carded a 9-under 63.

It took him to 8-under for the tournament, and meant he leapfrogged world No 1 Rory McIlroy in the process.

A vast gallery were already swarming McIlroy’s match at the first hole as Bradbury was arriving at the neighbouring ninth tee. Bradbury said he could not even see the Northern Irishman, so vast was the crowd.

He said he did not pay it a thought as he made it past McIlroy’s first-round score of 6-under because he was “in the zone”.

“I was on the fourth and had a quick look [at the leaderboard] but I wasn’t quite on it at that point,” Bradbury said.

“Then I just got onto the bottom of it and I was thinking, ‘Oh, right, I’m doing alright.’

“It is just a case of doing the same things: hitting good golf shots, then count them up at the end.”

His fine week or so in the UAE is the latest instalment in a bright young career. Bradbury won his first title, the Joburg Open, on just his third start, and while playing on a sponsors’ invite.

“I always had the belief I could get here, it has just happened a lot quicker than I expected,” he said.

“Everything just seems to be going right for me at the moment. I am just trying to ride the wave and keep it going for as long as we can.

“I would say I still go into it with the same mentality. It is not a cockiness, thinking I am going to win, but a belief that you know you can.

“I don’t feel like anything has really changed, I am just playing the best golf I can. I know that when it is good, it’s good.”

Updated: January 28, 2023, 9:50 AM