Richard Bland and Ian Poulter lead after weather-affected second day in Dubai

Richard Bland and Ian Poulter were tied at the top of the leaderboard when the second round of the weather-disrupted 2023 Hero Dubai Desert Classic was suspended due to fading light on Friday.

An entertaining second day at Emirates Golf Club saw many of Thursday's starters return to complete their rounds in the morning before the second wave kicked off their campaigns.

The second round then got under way on Friday evening, with Englishmen Bland and Poulter reaching eight under par before the daylight ran out.

Angel Hidalgo was their nearest challenger on seven under, with Louis de Jager another shot further back alongside Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed, who will start their second rounds on Saturday.

The tournament will now conclude on Monday, with the second round finishing on Saturday before the third and fourth rounds take place on Sunday and Monday respectively.

More than six hours were lost due to wet weather at Emirates Golf Club on day one, and after another delay of two hours on Friday, McIlroy finished his first round with a flourish.

He went birdie-eagle-birdie from the seventh to sign for an opening 66 and share the early clubhouse lead with Reed.

The highlight of his round was a hole-out eagle from the desert at the eighth, and he said: "All I was thinking about was catching it clean. My tendency out of those lies is to hit it a little bit heavy. 

"As soon as I struck it, I knew it came out really nicely and it was right down the pin. Anything inside of 20 feet, I would have been happy with, so that was certainly a bonus."

Reed, who finished his 66 with an eagle on the 18th, said: "I'm obviously really happy with the way I played. I felt like last week wasn't really a reflection of all the hard work I've been doing in the off-season. It was more getting rusty on playing tournament golf.

"So to come out this week and feel like I was able to put everything together and to have my mind right on game planning and course management was definitely a plus."

The second wave then got under way, with Swedish amateur Ludvig Aberg firing a 65 after recovering from a bogey at the first with eight birdies.

That saw the 23-year-old, who tops the World Amateur Golf Rankings, lead the way alongside Poulter at the end of the first round, but with round two commencing on Friday evening, it was not long before the leaderboard changed again.

Bland, who had shot a bogey-free 67 in his first round, opened the second with three successive birdies to move to eight under, with Poulter birdieing the long third to join him.

Spaniard Hidalgo finished his first-round 66 with his only bogey but bounced back immediately with birdies on the first and third to climb to eight under before dropping a shot at the fourth.

After round one, he said: "It was amazing. I didn't start hitting the ball so good but yeah, the birdie I made on the 18th gave me a lot of confidence and I started playing so good on the back nine."

After it was announced the tournament would be played over 72 holes, with the final round taking place on Monday, Mike Stewart, DP World Tour tournament director for this event, said: "This is one of the biggest events on the DP World Tour and we clearly want to make every effort possible to get to 72 holes at one of our biggest championships."

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