Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and Thomas Bjorn of Denmark were the joint leaders after the second round of the Dubai Desert Classic, a shot clear of overnight leader Rafael Cabrera-Bello. Martin Kaymer, who drew close with his first hole-in-one yesterday, was further shot behind.
McIlroy, three shots back after the first round, picked up where he left off with seven birdies on his final 10 holes. He birdied his first two holes, chipped in for birdie on his eighth and saw his eagle putt on nine lip out. He is 13-under overall.
“I was never really under pressure in any point of the round,” said McIlroy, the 2009 champion who has led going into the weekend for the past four years. “This was very stress-free golf; fairways most of the time, a lot of greens, and gave myself a lot of looks. So overall, really pleased with how I played today.”
The Northern Irishman said he was most happy with his driving, after inconsistencies in that department were a factor in him finishing second at the Abu Dhabi Championship two weeks ago.
“I was very pleased with how I drove the ball today. That has been a huge positive,” he said. “Coming into this week, I didn’t feel I drove the ball well at all in Abu Dhabi. I’ve put that right for the most part and felt really confident off the tee.”
Kaymer (67) kept pace for much of the day, holding a share of the lead after 11, but then McIlroy birdied the 12th and Kaymer three-putted for a bogey on his 13th. Then, just when it looked like he might fall down the leaderboard, he made a hole-in-one, hitting an eight-iron 180 yards.
“It was very similar to yesterday, hit a lot of good tee shots, a lot of fairways, a lot of good iron shots,” Kaymer said.
Kaymer is tied for third with France’s Gergory Bourdy (67) and Scott Jamieson of Scotland (68).
Stephen Gallacher of Scotland matched McIlroy’s 65 and he was three shots off the pace alongside Marcel Siem of Germany (69) and England’s Lee Westwood (65).
A further shot back was George Coetzee of South Africa, who had five birdies and his second eagle in two days to finish with a six-under 66.