Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre didn’t play as “pretty” golf as he’d like, but it was still good enough for one stroke behind the leader as the Omega Dubai Desert Classic reached the halfway stage.
The 24-year-old left hander from Oban added a four-under, bogey-free 68 to his opening 67 to head the leaderboard for the first half of the field. Former champions at the prestigious event at Emirates Golf Club include Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Seve Ballesteros and Colin Montgomerie.
-9 with only one dropped shot in two days 👏🏽👏🏽
A big @EuropeanTour weekend coming up 👀
— Bounce (@bouncespmgt) January 29, 2021
Belgium’s Thomas Detry, playing in the afternoon wave, shot a second 67 to claim the lead on his own. But MacIntyre was left in second in perfect place to make a challenge going into the weekend – and he didn’t feel completely on the mark.
‘That’s the way golf is’
“It wasn’t as pretty as yesterday’s round, if I’m being honest,” said the Scot after his round. “Not as solid. But that’s the way golf is.
“You can’t have a 72-hole tournament where you hit it absolutely perfectly. Today I felt I was out of rhythm early on; we couldn’t get any momentum within the group. But I hung in there and I putted great.”
He didn’t drop a shot and only birdied one of the par fives – the 18th, which he played as his ninth. A birdie two at the tricky short seventh took him into the sole lead as the morning wave finished.
Robert MacIntyre currently leads the way on day two of the #ODDC 🏌️♂️
— OMEGA Golf Dubai (@OMEGAGolfDubai) January 29, 2021
MacIntyre’s driving and holing out were the keys to his round, he said.
‘That second cut of rough, it’s a lottery’
“You’ve got to be in the fairways,” he said. “If you miss and you’re in that second cut of rough, it’s a lottery. Sometimes you can advance it 180 yards and sometimes you can only move it a hundred.”
It’s all good news for MacIntyre’s bid to get into the World Top 50 and get an invitation to play in his first Masters in April. If he’s there by February 22 he’ll also win a spot in the Players, but the aim is just to keep pushing for a second Tour win and beyond.
“It’s a goal of mine, but it’s all taken care of by good golf,” he said. “And what I’m doing just now is I’m playing good golf and starting to find a stride with the irons.
“If I continue to do that, then that should hopefully take care of everything.”
‘Mikey’s doing a great job of keeping me in check’
MacIntyre says he has to enjoy playing to succeed, and he feels that’s there with the help of caddie, Fifer Mike Thomson.
“Just now I’m sticking to what I’ve been doing the last two days or the last week and a half, and just enjoy myself,” he said.
“Mikey’s doing a great job of keeping my in check and keeping me from losing a bit of cool. Let’s just go and enjoy ourselves and see where we end up.”
Detry had two second places during the post-lockdown tournaments last year and is hotly tipped to be a future winner. The 28-year-old was also bogey-free during his second round.
Four players lie a shot behind MacIntyre sharing fourth, including Tommy Fleetwood. Paul Casey and Lee Westwood are in a group on seven-under.
Hatton fights back
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) January 29, 2021
The most spectacular comeback of the day came from Abu Dhabi winner Tyrrell Hatton, who struggled to a 76 on Day One. Helped by some luck with a chip-in and holing out of a greenside bunker, he romped to a 64 to leap almost 100 places on the leaderboard.
Scott Jamieson boosted his chances of a decent weekend with a chip-in for eagle from the back of the 18th green, allowing him to dip under par for the day and three-under for the tournament.
Richie Ramsay looks set for the weekend at one under after a par 72, while Grant Forrest is staying for the next two days after a fine 69.
However twice former winner Stephen Gallacher missing out on three-over. Drumoig’s Connor Syme had a disappointing 78 after his solid opening 72 to be well out of range of the cut.