Cameron Young will take a three-shot lead into the weekend at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic after firing a stunning 64 on day two at Emirates Golf Club.
The world No 25 is making his debut at this event but has made himself right at home, carding 14 birdies and an eagle over the first two rounds to get to 13 under.
That includes a remarkable run of scoring after being level par after his first 12 holes of the week, picking up 14 shots in his next 22 to fly up the leaderboard.
Pole Adrian Meronk and England’s Andy Sullivan were the nearest challengers after rounds of 66 and 67 respectively, with Danish twins Nicolai and Rasmus Højgaard and Scotland’s Richie Ramsay at seven under.
South Africa’s Louis de Jager is among eight players on six under after carding 70.
Young has two runner-up finishes on the DP World Tour at the 2022 Open Championship and 2023 WGC – Dell Technologies Match Play to go with four more on the PGA Tour but has yet to add to his two Korn Ferry Tour victories from 2021.
A Rolex Series triumph would be a spectacular way to return to the winner’s circle and the 26-year-old believes the putter was key to getting him in pole position.
“I putted fantastic,” he said. “I made a couple of long ones yesterday and then made a few more today that had no right going in.
“I hit a bunch of good putts but just one of those days where you kind of have a couple of 30-footers and you look up and they are going right in the middle, which doesn’t happen all that often to have a bunch of them in one round.
“I’m doing a really good job of staying out of my own way. I kind of realised it was going well early but the back nine, at the same time, it feels like you should do that to some extent, especially in the morning with not much wind.
“I feel like the back nine, I just played really solidly, and then made a putt on one, made a putt on four and all of a sudden that was eight [under] or something.
“Just one of those days that they kept kind of going in and I didn’t make too many mistakes.”
Sullivan made the first big move of the day, birdieing the 1st with a tap-in and getting up and down from the waste area on the par-five 3rd but was soon joined by Young, who holed a 20-footer on the 12th and made a two-putt gain on the par-five 13th.
An approach to 12 feet from Sullivan on the 6th was then followed by a tee-shot to slightly longer range on the next and when he got inside 10 feet on the 8th, the 36-year-old had a hat-trick of gains and a three-shot lead.
Young was just getting going, however, and he hit an approach in tight at the 16th, put another to inside four feet at the 17th and made a two-putt birdie on the par-five 18th to share top spot.
A fourth birdie in a row on the first from 15 feet had him alone at the summit and while Sullivan joined him as he took advantage of the 13th, he gave the shot back on the 15th.
That allowed Young to pull away, and a deft chip set up a birdie at the 3rd before he put tee-shots inside 10 feet on the par-three 4th and 7th to lead by four.
He found the water on the last to see his lead trimmed but remained very much in control heading into the final two days.
Playing in the afternoon, Meronk put an approach to 15 feet at the 3rd, got up and down from the sand at the 4th and put a tee-shot inside 10 feet at the 7th to turn in 32.
A pair of smart pitches after lay-ups at the 10th and 13th were followed by an up-and-down at the driveable 17th before he missed a golden opportunity from four feet at the last to get into solo second.
Nicolai Højgaard signed for a 69, one shot fewer than his brother, while Ramsay carded a 68.
Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald made the sixth hole-in-one of the season and second of his DP World career when he holed an eight iron from 183 yards on the 4th.
– Edited report from DP World Tour website
Photo: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images