Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 28th January 2023: Fans turned up in large numbers for the Hero Dubai Desert Classic on Saturday to see rising star Michael Thorbjornsen finish a storming second round, with the 21-year-old amateur sharing the lead at the half-way stage of the Rolex Series event.
After two delayed starts due to the weather conditions, play commenced as scheduled at Emirates Golf Club and fans were treated to some thrilling play on the Majlis Course.
Headlining the play on Round Two was Thorbjornsen, who is tied in a three-way lead with Belgium’s Thomas Pieters and England’s Richard Bland. Thorbjornsen was in sizzling form, making seven birdies and an eagle with his only flaw being a bogey on the first hole, to shoot 64.
With two more rounds to go in the Hero Dubai Desert Classic, Thorbjornsen is hoping to continue his good form on Sunday.
“I feel I definitely played well. There were some shots out there where the driver isn’t 100 per cent right now but I am managing with what I have,” he said. “Hopefully I can sort it out for Sunday. I have to keep on what I am doing and stick to the game plan and just focus one shot at a time.”
Alongside him at the top is Thomas Pieters, who matched his opening round score of 66 to take T1 at the half-way point. The 31-year-old had a frustrating start with three eagles in the first nine before recovering to hit seven birdies in the last nine holes.
Despite the difficult start, Pieters was happy to have ended the round strongly going into the final two rounds. He said: “I was not in a good space after nine holes but I just focused ahead and made some good putts which was the key. It was the same yesterday and it has really bailed me out as my driving has been pretty bad and something I need to fix on.”
Also at the top is Richard Bland, who returned to resume his round, matching his first-round score of 67 after recovering from a bogey to make two birdies.
The trio is one shot ahead of Spain’s Adri Arnaus, Scotland’s Connor Syme and Sweden’s Marcus Kinhult.
Meanwhile, world number one Rory McIlroy and two-time Hero Dubai Desert Classic champion stands amongst an eight-strong group sitting two-shots off the lead after the Northern Irishman registered a score of 70 on Saturday. The 33-year-old’s highlight of the day was an eagle on the 13th in a round which also included a birdie and a bogey on the 10th.
Another player who had a strong day was England’s Dan Banbury. The 23-year-old finished Round One with 73 but bounced back in style to shoot 63 – the lowest score of the day - with nine birdies including six in the last nine holes. Ireland’s Shane Lowry bowed out of the tournament following a disappointing opening two rounds.
Combining the world-class golf was an array of family-friendly entertainment at Tournament Town for adults and children to enjoy including bubble artists, stilt walkers, children’s entertainers, magicians, graffiti artists and musicians. The entertainment will continue until Monday.
The Hero Dubai Desert Classic will see Round Three to take place on Sunday with Round Four closing out the tournament on Monday.
For the latest updates on site access and play, visit the Hero Dubai Desert Classic’s social media platforms @dubaidcgolf.