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Ernie Els one shot back in Dubai Desert Classic

By The Sports Xchange
Ernie Els one shot back in Dubai Desert Classic
Ernie Els from South Africa. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

Spain's Rafeal Cabrera-Bello shot his second consecutive 5-under 67 and holds a one-shot lead after two rounds of the Dubai Desert Classic in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

South Africa's Ernie Els and two other golfers are one shot off the lead. Els also shot 67 on Friday and is at 9-under 135.

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England's Danny Willett and South Africa's Trevor Fisher Jr. also are at 9-under. Willett fired a 65 and Fisher shot 68.

Tied at 8-under 136 are England's Chris Wood (68), The Netherlands' Joost Luiten (67), England's Andy Sullivan (66) and Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen (64)

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Defending champion Rory McIlroy struggled to even-par 72 and has a two-round total of 140. McIlroy birdied the last three holes and is six shots off the lead.

"I struggled in the wind a little bit and didn't get off to the best of starts again," McIlroy said. "Being 2-over through four on this golf course when you have a couple of good birdie chances wasn't great."

Els was beaming after avoiding bogeys during his crisp second-round showing.

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"It's an exact turnaround from a couple weeks ago where I was dreading to get on the greens," Els told reporters. "I'm actually enjoying it on the greens. The surfaces are just unbelievable and I've got a lot more confidence in the stroke and in the setup and all of that stuff. It has almost got a smile out of me right now."

First-round leader Alex Noren of Sweden fell off the pace with a 75. He shot a 66 on Thursday.

Cabrera-Bello has just one bogey over the first 36 holes and his steady play has him holding the lead at the midway point.

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"Yesterday, I really felt I played great until the green. I gave myself lots of chances," Cabrera-Bello said. "And today was the exact opposite. I didn't play as good, as sharp. It was windy. I didn't quite find my tempo but the putting was extremely hot today.

"I rolled one of the best putting rounds of my life today, so that made up for everything else."

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