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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 9 March 2021

Thomas Detry grabs halfway lead at Omega Dubai Desert Classic

Belgian cards bogey-free round at Emirates Golf Club with 17 players within four shots of summit

Thomas Detry holds the halfway lead at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic after posting a second successive 67 on Friday, although 17 players lie within four shots of the summit.

The Belgian, yet to win on the European Tour, posted another bogey-free round to top the leaderboard at Emirates Golf Club on 10-under par, with Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre one behind.

Tommy Fleetwood, the 2017 Race to Dubai champion, eagled the 18th late on on the Majlis to climb to 8-under alongside Justin Harding and Kalle Samooja.

Current European No 1 Lee Westwood and Ryder Cup star Paul Casey highlight a six-strong group on 7-under, while two-time major champion Martin Kaymer is among the names one stroke further back.

Speaking immediately after his round, Detry said: “First thing that comes to my mind is bogey-free, on this course, that's a pretty good achievement. Let's keep it that way.

“I've been playing some really good golf, keeping it on the fairway and hitting every single green and getting up-and-down a couple of good times. So I'm very pleased.

“I'm just going to take the exact same approach [on Saturday]. It's been working really well. I know the front nine can be a bit tricky, but the back nine, plenty of birdie opportunities. So if I can keep it that way and take advantage of those par 5s, it will be pretty special.”

Asked how much more sweet it would be to get his first European Tour win in Dubai, Detry replied: “Would be extra special. I'm moving here in a couple weeks as well, so this is my new residence. So winning at home would be amazing.”

Detry's closest challenger, MacIntyre, had set the early lead on Friday, firing a bogey-free 68 to move to 9-under par.

The Scot, the 2019 European Tour Rookie of the Year, reeled off four birdies with no dropped shots in pleasant morning conditions to add to his opening 67.

“It wasn't as pretty as yesterday's round, if I'm being honest,” MacIntyre said. “Wasn't as solid. But that's the way golf is. You can't have a 72-hole tournament where you hit it absolutely perfectly.

"Today I felt I was out of rhythm early on; the group itself, we couldn't get any momentum within the group, which was difficult. But I hung in there and I putted great.”

Sergio Garcia, the 2017 champion, was left to rue a double-bogey on the par-4 16th as he eventually signed for a 73 to sit on 5-under. The Spaniard played alongside Tyrrell Hatton, who bounced back brilliantly from his opening 76 to shoot 64 – the lowest score of Round 2.

The Englishman, fresh from victory in Abu Dhabi on Sunday – with the win, he moved to a career-high world No 5 - birdied three and eagled one of the first six holes to go out in 30. He ended the afternoon six off the lead.

“Looking back I'm pretty happy with that round of golf, to be honest,” Hatton said. “Going out today the goal was to try to make the cut after yesterday's disappointing start. So I'm really happy that I'm going to be here for the weekend. Hoping that I can push on now and see where we go.”

Meanwhile, the first two days weren't great for Collin Morikawa, the reigning US PGA champion and highest-ranked player in the field. The world No 4, making his tournament debut, had a 73 to come in on even par at the midway point.

Other high-prolife names were not so fortunate, with Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter and Ernie Els among those who missed the cut.

Published: January 29, 2021 06:22 PM

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