Lucas Herbert responded strongly after a poor opening to the defence of Dubai Desert Classic with the man from Bendigo shooting a second round 66 to get right back into the mix.
Herbert recorded the second best round of the day with a brilliant six-under par effort that was only eclipsed by European golf’s man of the moment, Tyrrell Hatton, who fired an eight-under 64.
Both men had struggled on the first day, Herbert recording a 74 and Hatton, who’d won the previous weekend’s Abu Dhabi Championship, flopping to a 76.
Yet both were in inspired mood on Friday as they climbed to four-under for the tournament, within six shots of the leader, Belgian Thomas Detry.
Herbert, defending the prestigious European Tour title that he’d annexed on Australia Day last year, recorded seven birdies and a bogey in his 66.
His birdie-birdie finish saw the 25-year-old join Hatton in a group sharing 23rd place and definitely not out of the hunt.
Hatton, who rose to No.5 in the world with his Abu Dhabi win, was in magnificent form, with his eagle and eight birdies offset by a couple of dropped shots.
In a tie for 115th after the first round, the Englishman surged with a round that saw him chip-in for his eagle on the par-five third and then hole a bunker shot for a birdie on the sixth.
“I’m pretty happy with that round of golf to be honest,” Hatton said.
“A little bit disappointed I didn’t birdie 17 or 18, but I can’t really complain with 64. Hoping that I can push on now and see where we go.”
It wasn’t just Hatton among Padraig Harrington’s prospective European Ryder Cup team who had a good day, with Scotland’s rising star Robert MacIntyre adding a second round 68 to his opening 67 at Emirates Golf Club for a halfway total of nine-under par.
He was a shot behind Detry, who went round in 67, while Tommy Fleetwood recorded an eagle at the last for a second straight 68 that put him eight-under, just a shot clear of fellow English luminaries Lee Westwood and Paul Casey.
Even 49-year-old captain Harrington himself enjoyed a decent day, joining Hatton and Herbert at four-under after his second round of 69.
Wade Ormsby, who had been the leading Australian after day one with his opening 68, had a disappointing second round of 73 to move back to three-under.
Abu Dhabi runner-up Jason Scrivener’s 69 was just enough to enable him to be around for the weekend on the cut mark of level-par but Scott Hend (76 for one-over total) and Min Woo Lee (75 for six-over) both missed out.