Bryson DeChambeau co-leads in Dubai while Ernie Els lurks

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Bryson DeChambeau co-leads in Dubai while Ernie Els lurks

Euro Tour

Bryson DeChambeau co-leads in Dubai while Ernie Els lurks

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Bryson DeChambeau probably didn’t think he’d be up against a legend when he arrived in the Middle East to try to grab his first international victory. Yet the five-time PGA Tour winner might just have to do just that over the final 36 holes of the $3.25 million Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

DeChambeau returned a second consecutive 6-under 66 and shares the top of the leaderboard on 12 under with Australian Lucas Herbert, who returned a 9-under 63. A four-time major winner many thought was only waiting for the PGA Tour Champions let alone taking on young guns like DeChambeau sits one shot off the lead in third place.

That man is 49-year-old Ernie Els, and he has far more experience of the Majlis course at the Emirates Golf Course than DeChambeau and most of the rest of the field. That’s why Els is chasing his fourth Desert Classic victory.

“I thought after yesterday – getting it around not making a bogey was awesome – but today was even more impressive with three bogeys on the card, still shooting 6 under,” DeChambeau said.

“I was happy about that. Unfortunately, again, I just didn’t have the right sensations and proprioception over shots. I just felt uncomfortable, unfortunately, on a lot of them, and consequently my ball-striking is just not my best. But I’m not complaining one bit. There’s no complaining here for sure, so I’m happy.

“I’m pleased that I’m playing golf. I’m getting it in the hole and executing the right shots when I need to and making a lot of key putts. That was one of the things I talked about this week, was reading the green right, and we’ve done a pretty darned good job so far. Hopefully we can keep it up.”

Els first won the Desert Classic in 1994. He also won in 2002 and 2005. He fashioned a 7-under 65 to go with his opening 68 to get to 11 under along with Spain’s Alvaro Quiros.

“I like this place,” said Els, who played the first two rounds in a golden oldie three-ball with Colin Montgomerie and Jose Maria Olazabal. “I’ve had some really great times here. I’m swinging well, my body feels well. Just going on the memory bank, I guess. Playing with Colin and José was also fun. We’ve done a lot in the game, and we had a good couple of chats, and I found my form. You’ve got to love it.”

Aside from three wins, Els has three seconds and three thirds among his previous 16 appearances in Dubai.

“It’s obviously a little different to when I won here, the golf course. They’ve really grown the rough. I see the scoring is really good. I see scoring slowing down a little bit over the weekend in the afternoons. The greens were getting a little firmer, faster, but if you get it in the fairway, you give yourself second-shot opportunities, and the putter has been working for me, so it’s been fun.”

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