DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Miguel Angel Jimenez shot a 5-under 67 on Friday to take a share of the lead on the second morning of the Dubai Desert Classic.
The Spanish Ryder Cup player reached 8-under 136 with a birdie at the 9th hole – his last – to open up a two shot advantage over his playing partner Rory McIlroy. The young player from Northern Ireland, who share the first-round lead, shot a 70 to be two strokes back.
Welshman Stephen Dod completed a 3-under 69 to share the lead with Jimenez.
Jimenez had trailed defending champion McIlroy by three shots until a reversal of fortunes at their last hole.
While Jimenez sank his birdie, McIlroy drove into the rough, then put his 7-iron recovery shot into water short of the green and finished with a double bogey.
Jimenez sank at least four putts from beyond 15 feet while making seven birdies, and gave thanks to his temporary caddy – a Dubai flower importer and family friend.
“He may be in business now, but he did caddy on the tour for a time,” said Jimenez. “And we have remained close friends and that is important out on the course.
“But it is only for this week whatever happens in the final round on Sunday.”
Despite his late blunder, 20-year-old McIlroy still believed he could join Tiger Woods and Ernie Els as two-time winners of the event.
“I am happy with the situation heading into the weekend,” said McIlroy. “Apart from that mistake at the last it was a really good day’s work.”
Scoring on the second day was much lower than it had been during the opening round as Thursday?s fierce sandstorm had blown over. And with clouds in the Dubai skies accompanied by a threat of rain, it was a cool, calm morning.
Among those to benefit was 60-year-old Tom Watson who made five birdies before before he too dropped a shot on the ninth green on his way to a 2-under 70. At 1-under after two rounds, he looked certain to make the cut.