Evergreen Spaniard Miguel Angel Jiménez putted his way into a share of a one shot lead alongside Stephen Dodd midway through the second round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
The flamboyant 46 year old Jiménez blazed seven birdies in a five under par 67 to charge to the top of the leaderboard with joint overnight leader Dodd also improving to seven under overall following a bogey-free 69.
Four consecutive birdies at the start of the Spaniard’s round was the highlight of a sublime putting display before Jiménez recovered from a slight wobble around the turn with a late brace of birdies.
“I played very well. I hit the ball solidly and holed a few putts,” said Jiménez. “It is always good when you make little runs you need to hole putts.
“I was under par in the wind yesterday, but that was the other side of the coin with the putter until the end when I holed a couple of putts, but that’s the game.”
Defending champion Rory McIlroy looked in ominous form as the World Number Nine briefly established a three shot lead following a run of four consecutive birdies around the turn.
But after being slowly pegged back by playing partner Jiménez, McIlroy was forced to settle for a two under par 70 and a share of second place after shipping a double bogey at the last.
McIlroy, who claimed his first and only career title with a wire-to-wire victory 12 months ago, hit his approach into the water from the rough before missing a five foot bogey putt for his only blemish.
And after being part of a six-way overnight lead, McIlroy sits alongside Marcus Fraser (68), last season’s Challenge Tour Number One Edoardo Molinari (70) and Alvaro Quiros (69) at six under par overall.
“I am still happy where I am heading into the weekend. Apart from the mistake at the last it was another really good day’s work. I putted really solidly, made a few birdies around the turn and also could have made a few more,” said McIlroy.
“The wind conditions and the rough ensure the leaderboard is always going to be quite bunched so it looks like it will be a very exciting weekend.”
Paul Casey (71), Graeme McDowell (68) and Jeev Milkha Singh (72) sit well-placed at four under par, with Commercialbank Qatar Masters presented by Dolphin Energy champion Robert Karlsson (71) and Italian amateur Matteo Manassero (72) heading a group a further shot off the pace.
Elsewhere, eight-time Major winner Tom Watson carded five birdies in a hard-fought 70 to improve to one under par.
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