McIlroy and Bjorn tied in Dubai

Rory McIlroy and Thomas Bjorn share the halfway lead at the Dubai Desert Classic after an action-packed second round.

World number two McIlroy added a sublime 65 to his opening 66 to post 13-under in the morning session and, later in the day, Bjorn birdied the 18th to card a seven-under round of his own to join the US Open champion at the top.

The two former winners (McIlroy 2009) and Bjorn (2001) are one in front of first round leader Rafael Cabrera-Bello and two clear of a three-man group which features world number four Martin Kaymer,who produced the highlight of the day by making a hole-in-one at the 186-yard seventh.

That helped him to a 67 and a share of fourth place with Scotland’s Scott Jamieson and Frenchman Gregory Bourdy.

World number three Lee Westwood is also right in the hunt after a hat-trick of closing birdies gave him a 65 and a share of seventh place on 10-under alongside Germany’s Marcel Siem and Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher.

McIlroy landed his first professional title on the Emirates Course in 2009 and also led the tournament for the first three rounds last year.

After his 65, he said: “I just kept picking up birdies along the way and it puts me in a great position.

“I feel a lot more confident than I did in Abu Dhabi.

Despite battling his swing, he lost by just one to Robert Rock there two weeks ago and that after incurring a two-shot penalty for brushing sand away from his line off the green.

For Kaymer it was a first-ever hole-in-one, but the prize of a watch will go to his physio after a bet they have every week.

“It will be a good celebration tonight,” he said.

Bjorn and Westwood both said that patience had been a key factor in their 65s.

“There’s a tricky spell on this golf course, six through nine, and that can really come up and bite you,” said Bjorn, “so you’ve got to keep your patience because the back nine offers a lot of opportunities.”

Despite McIlroy, Kaymer and Westwood presenting daunting opposition, Bjorn knows he can beat them.

“The good thing for me is I won in Switzerland (September’s Omega European Masters) with those three on the leaderboard as well and that’s not too long ago,” said the Dane, who racked up three victories on the European Tour in 2011.

Westwood said his “perseverance” pleased him most.

“I gave myself a lot of chances out there and kept burning the hole and left a few hanging on the edges,” said the Englishman. “I just had to be really patient.”


Second round leaderboard

(GB & Ire unless stated)

-13 R McIlroy
-13 T Bjorn (Den)
-12 R Cabrera-Bello (Spa)
-11 M Kaymer (Ger)
-11 G Bourdy (Fra)
-11 S Jamieson
-10 S Gallacher
-10 M Siem (Ger)
-10 L Westwood