Ernie Els moved into third place at the Dubai Desert Classic after a round of 65. Photo: Christiaan Kotze/EPA

DUBAI – Australia’s Lucas Herbert equalled his career-best score of 63 to grab a share of the lead at the halfway stage of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on Friday alongside American Bryson DeChambeau.

Herbert sunk seven birdies and an eagle in his nine-under-par second round, but world number five DeChambeau, who also struck seven birdies and an eagle – along with three bogeys – joined the Australian on 12-under at the top of the leaderboard.

Four-time major winner Ernie Els was a shot further behind in a tie for third place after shooting a seven-under 65, with Spain’s Alvaro Quiros, with defending champion Li Haotong in a group of five players tied in fifth place on 10-under.

Overnight leader Matthew Fitzpatrick slipped back into a four-way tie for 10th place after a disappointing two-under-par round, which included a double bogey on the par-three seventh hole.

Starting his round on the back nine, Herbert got off to a flyer with an eagle on his first hole followed by back-to-back birdies.

The 23-year-old gained another stroke on the par-four 16th to turn in 32 before scorching the front nine, with four more birdies to move into the outright lead.

He saved his best for his last hole, making up for a wayward tee shot on the ninth with a stunning approach to get back on the green and then nervelessly sinking a 40-foot-putt to save par and card the day’s lowest round.

“Everyone is making those numbers around the back nine,” Herbert said. “You’ve obviously got the three par-fives, and 17 is drivable, so there’s some good birdie opportunities.

“I knew I just had to take advantage of them straight out of the gate. I did that with an eagle-birdie-birdie start, and kind of just kept flowing. I was like seven under through about 11 holes, and it just felt like I was cruising.

“I probably left some out there, to be honest.”

Reuters