Friday, 05 February 2016
Ernie Els   (Getty Images)
Ernie Els (Getty Images)

Ernie Els showed just why he is a force to be reckoned with at Emirates Golf Club as he moved into a share of the lead midway through the second round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

The three-time winner added a 67 to his opening 68 to set the clubhouse target at nine under, where he was soon joined by Danny Willett, whose seven under par 65 was the lowest round of the week so far.

Els won here in 1994, 2002 and 2005 and is the only man to have lifted the trophy three times, but his record goes far beyond that.

He set the course record here at the Majlis with a 61 on day one of that 1994 victory and is an aggregate 181 under par for his 54 completed rounds to date, having only been over par on seven occasions, and never at the end of the tournament.

He came into day two four under par, two behind overnight leader Alex Noren, but moved to seven under at the turn as he birdied the 13th for the second day running and then made an eagle from 15 feet on the 18th.

A further birdie followed on the third and he added to that on the fifth, much to the delight of the crowds enjoying their weekend here in Dubai.

Willett was also blemish-free as seven birdies catapulted the Englishman up the leaderboard.

Starting on the tenth, he made gains on his opener, the 13th, 14th, first and third. The Race to Dubai runner-up then put his approach on the par three seventh to 12 feet and rolled in for birdie, finding similar range on the last to move to the top of the leaderboard.

Chris Wood and Joost Luiten were then at eight under, with Wood taking the scenic route to a second consecutive 68 playing alongside Willett.

He bogeyed the 13th but picked the shot straight back up before making further gains on the 16th and 17th. An eagle on the third for the second consecutive day moved him to eight under and he stayed there with a bogey on the next and a birdie on the fifth.

Luiten has enjoyed a positive start to his season with two top tens in his three events so far and he birdied the tenth, 13th, 14th, 15th and fifth on his way to a 67.

Alvaro Quiros, winner here in 2011, was then at seven under after five birdies and two bogeys in his 69, alongside the man who replaced him as champion the following year, fellow Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello, who was two under for the day through five holes.

Brett Rumford was also at seven under after ten holes, a shot clear of Byeong-hun An, Haydn Porteous, Gary Stal and Graeme Storm.

World Number Two Rory McIlroy was three under for the tournament through seven holes of his second round.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1WILLETT, DannyENG18-19
T2SULLIVAN, AndyENG18-18
T2CABRERA-BELLO, RafaESP18-18
T4QUIROS, AlvaroESP18-16
T4AN, Byeong HunKOR18-16
T6MCILROY, RoryNIR18-15

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