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Thongchai Jaidee edges a shot ahead at halfway

A penultimate hole birdie handed Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee a one-stroke lead at the halfway mark of the Dubai Desert Classic on Friday.

Thongchai carded a six-under 66 to move to eight under par.

Last year’s European number one Lee Westwood, fellow Britain Stephen Dodd and Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez share second place on seven under par.

Defending champion Rory McIlroy, the world number nine, is one of five players on six under.

Thongchai, winner of four tournaments on the European Tour, produced a bogey free second round that included three birdies on each nine.

“I played very consistent today compared to yesterday, and I was very solid today hitting 15 greens in regulation and missing just five fairways,” said the 40-year-old Thongchai.

“So I felt very confident today. I am trying every year to get better and better. Over the past four of weeks I have also worked hard on my putting and that aspect of my game is also getting better and better.”

Westwood moved into contention for a 21st European Tour success with a round of 65.

“It’s a goal all the time to get into contention and keep testing yourself and get accustomed to being under pressure,” said the world number four.

“And after what happened the last couple of weeks, I am pleased with everything. No complaints.”

Jimenez capped his round with four birdies in succession from his second hole and has set his sights this year on making a fourth European Ryder Cup team.

“I have spoken to (captain Colin Montgomerie) Monty lately but he knows how much I want to be playing in Wales this year,” said Jimenez.

“So if I can keep on playing the way I have played so far this week, who knows what is going to happen with the Ryder Cup.”

McIlroy, in a six-way tie for the lead after the first round, was left ruing a final hole double bogey after putting his approach shot into the water guarding the par four, ninth hole that he was playing as his 18th.

“Apart from the mistake at the last, it was another really good day’s work,” he said after a round of 70.

“My ball didn’t quite come out of the rough the way I thought it was going to come out, and I got a bit of a flyer.

“So it does leave a little bit of a sour taste. I had not made a mistake all day and to do it at the last hole is disappointing.

“But then if I go out tomorrow and make two birdies in the first two holes, then it’s all forgotten.”



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