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Jaidee in second round lead at Dubai Desert Classic

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2009 European TourDUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand shot a 6-under 66 to take the outright second-round lead at the Dubai Desert Classic on Friday.

The 40-year-old former Thai Army paratrooper made the most of calm, cool, second-day conditions to make six birdies.

Thongchai reached 8 under to hold a one-shot lead from Lee Westwood of England, Stephen Dodd of Wales and Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain.

Thongchai has four career wins on the European Tour, including the Indonesia Open and the Ballantine’s Championship in 2009.

A double bogey at the last left Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland on 70, among a group of five players at 6 under, two shots behind Thongchai.

Thongchai was hopeful of qualifying for the Masters in April but to do so needs to raise his No. 59 ranking into the top 50.

In 2006, he missed the cut at Augusta National after shooting 78 and 75, and after overcoming a serious back injury sustained two years ago he wants a second chance to set his Masters record straight.

“When I went to Augusta the first time I was not familiar with the place,” he said. “I didn’t know those greens. I three-putted seven times and had one four-putt. I would like to get that right.”

Holding on to the lead in Dubai would go some way toward that goal.

“I have played well here in Dubai in the past and had a top-5 finish here when Tiger Woods won in 2006,” Thongchai said.

“I am driving the ball well, hitting my irons well and having worked hard on my putting it is improving. That’s what I need here and for the Masters.”

Westwood, in the three-man chasing pack a shot back, has played in the Desert Classic since 1994 and hopes to add to his list of 20 career victories.

He produced seven birdies in a round of 65 which represented his lowest score in 50 competitive rounds at the Emirates Golf Club.

“I have probably had the hardest of conditions over the first two days with morning-afternoon starts and to come out at the right end of that is a big boost to my confidence,” Westwood said.

Jimenez added a 67 to his opening 70 to get into a share of second place while Dodd shot a 69 to follow his first-round 68.