The sun came out and so did the stars on Saturday as the Hero Dubai Desert Classic moved into business mode.
With the Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club drying out at last, there was little separating a whole host of contenders chasing the crown at the 34th edition of the historic Hero Dubai Desert Classic.
Thomas Pieters again made a case for a second Rolex Series title in a little over a year after the 2022 Abu Dhabi HSBC Champion blitzed the back nine in 30 on Saturday on his way to his second 67 and a share of the lead with Richard Bland and Michael Thorbjornsen on 10-under.
Strangely, Pieters was still unhappy with his game, as he conceded: “I was not in a good head space early today. Then I shoot that on the back nine. I don’t know how, but my putting seemed to work. I still have some tough work to do on the range as my driving is pretty poor. We’ll have to fix that. But all the rest is in good shape.”
As 87 players made the mark on two-under, there will be a further cut for the second year in a row, to trim the field after three rounds. The leading 72 professionals and ties will contest the final round on Monday.
Yesterday, the underdogs again bared their teeth, and amateur Thorbjornsen thrilled with a brilliant 64, taking him to the lofty heights above so many celebrated golfers.
“It feels good,” the young American said. “I didn’t have the best round yesterday and then the day before, I felt like I missed a lot of putts out there. I thought I had a pretty good game plan but just stuck to it today. I actually made some putts.”
Spain’s Adri Arnaus and Swede Marcus Kinhult are also flirting with the lead alongside Scotland’s Connor Syme, so an upset could be on the Monday cards.
But when you glance over their shoulder, you can see the massive experience of Patrick Reed, Ian Poulter and Rory McIlroy all ready to pounce in a packed leaderbaord, so anything can happen to end a week where it already has.
Roll on Sunday!