Tournament: Hero Dubai Desert Classic
Rolex Series: Second Rolex Series tournament of 2023
DP World Tour Rankings: Tournament 8 of 45 events
Venue: Emirates Golf Club, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Prize Fund: $9,000,000
Hashtag: #HeroDDC #RolexSeries #DPWT
Day Two Report
Richard Bland and Ian Poulter were tied at the top of the leaderboard when the second round of the weather-disrupted 2023 Hero Dubai Desert Classic was suspended due to fading light on Friday.
An entertaining second day at Emirates Golf Club saw many of Thursday’s starters return to complete their first rounds in the morning before the second wave began their campaigns.
The second round then got under way on Friday evening, with Englishmen Bland and Poulter reaching eight under par before the daylight ran out.
Angel Hidalgo was their nearest challenger on seven under, with Louis de Jager another shot further back alongside Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed, who will both start their second rounds on Saturday.
The tournament will now conclude on Monday, with the second round finishing on Saturday before the third and fourth rounds take place on Sunday and Monday respectively.
More than six hours were lost due to wet weather at Emirates Golf Club on day one, and after another delay of two hours on Friday, World Number One McIlroy finished his first round with a flourish.
He went birdie-eagle-birdie from the seventh to sign for an opening 66 and share the early clubhouse lead with Reed.
The second wave then got under way, with Swedish amateur Ludvig Aberg firing a 65 after recovering from a bogey at the first with eight birdies.
That saw the 23-year-old, who tops the World Amateur Golf Rankings, lead the way alongside Poulter at the end of the first round, but with round two commencing on Friday evening, it was not long before the leaderboard changed again.
Bland, who had shot a bogey-free 67 in his first round, opened the second round with three successive birdies to move to eight under, with Poulter birdieing the long third to join him.
Spaniard Hidalgo finished his first-round 66 with his only bogey but bounced back immediately with birdies on the first and third to climb to eight under before dropping a shot at the fourth.
Angel Hidalgo: “Yeah, it was amazing. I didn’t start hitting so good the ball but yeah, the birdie I made on 18 gave me a lot of confidence and I start playing so good the back nine, and yeah, the last hole was really, really long. I hit driver, four-iron. So with that pin, sometimes you sign five.
“Yeah, it was weird. See my surname and his surname (McIlroy) together in the leaderboard was pretty cool. That’s why I made bogey, to be close to him (laughing). Yeah, it was something, a good dream when you see him winning majors, so yeah, we played good today, and maybe why not play with him.”
Rory McIlroy: “Honestly not very good. I struggled out there most of yesterday. I thought did I well to be under par by the end of the day. I fought back after some very sloppy rusty golf over the first sort of 14 holes.
“And then yeah, today I came out and I don’t really know if anything clicked because I don’t think I hit enough shots to know. But it was definitely needed. Like I would have been happy with anything around 70 the way I played, and then to come in and shoot 66 is quite the bonus.
“Yeah, you know, I wouldn’t say I’m the best fairway bunker player in the world. The desert is a little nicer, it’s a little more packed down, so you get some better lies.
“All I was thinking about was catching it clean. My tendency out of those lies is to hit it a little bit heavy. As soon as I struck it, I knew it came out really nicely and it was right down the pin. Again, anything inside of 20 feet, I would have been happy with, so that was certainly a bonus.”
Patrick Reed: “I’m obviously really happy with the way I played. I felt like last week wasn’t really a reflection of all the hard work I’ve been doing in the off-season. It was more getting rusty on playing tournament golf.
“So to come out this week and feel like I was able to putt everything together and to have my mind right on game planning and course management was definitely a plus. I’ve never seen this place before, and coming in and seeing it for the first time and knowing and kind of realising that it’s more of a positional golf course rather than just hit it wherever, and I feel like I had full control of the golf ball and made a couple putts.
“They have done an unbelievable job. With just the conditions, we’re in the desert and we don’t expect it to rain, and with how much it has rained and for them to get the golf course to not just playable but to get it where it’s in really good shape is amazing. It shows how great they are at their craft.”