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Sunday 17 December 2017

McIlroy braced for Kaymer duel

RORY McILROY lived up to his |star billing in Dubai today – but a hole-in-one from Martin Kaymer set up the prospect of another "Duel in the Sun" this weekend.

World number two McIlroy added a sublime 65 to his opening 66 to reach halfway in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on 13 under par.

But world number four Kaymer, playing in the following group, aced the 186-yard seventh and, with a 67 score, was only two behind. The pair have gone head-to-head in the Middle East before. They were first and second in Abu Dhabi last year, with Kaymer winning by a staggering eight-shot margin.

McIlroy, though, has the memory of landing his first professional title on the Emirates Course in 2009 and he also led the tournament for the first three rounds last year.

The 22-year-old US Open champ turned in a four-under 33, but, for the second day running, missed an eagle chance of under 10 feet at the 18th and then failed from five feet on the first. Kaymer, out in 34, drew level with a birdie on the second, but then fell three behind. He three-putted the short fourth, while McIlroy birdied the long third and difficult sixth.

Then came the German's hole-in-one, but McIlroy calmly rolled in a curling 18-footer at the eighth to double his advantage.

Overnight leader Rafael Cabrera-Bello, who opened with a nine-under 63, needed a 67 to grab the lead back off McIlroy and he began well. Birdies on the second and third took him alongside Kaymer.

When 2001 winner Thomas Bjorn chipped in on the short 11th it was his fourth birdie of the day and he joined Bernard Gallacher on 10 under, as did Marcel Siem and Gregory Bourdy.

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