DDC R2 { 1478 images } Created 27 Jan 2022

Justin Harding made a spectacular eagle to light up a "grinding" 68 as he took a two-shot lead into the weekend at the 2022 Dubai Desert Classic.

The South African had to return to complete his opening round on day two and birdied the last to take a share of the 18-hole lead before a hole-out from 183 yards on the par-four sixth in round two helped him hit the front at 11 under, two clear of four-time Rolex Series champion Tyrrell Hatton.

Harding is a two-time winner on the DP World Tour but is yet to star in a Rolex Series event, with last week's tie for 25th at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship matching his best finish.

The 35-year-old has proven he can go low at Emirates Golf Club, carding a 63 en route to a top-ten finish in 2019, and is hoping he can recreate that magic after falling away over the weekend last season.

South African Erik van Rooyen and Paraguay's Fabrizio Zanotti were then at eight under, one ahead of Ryder Cup team-mates Viktor Hovland and Rory McIlroy, England's Richard Bland, Dane Joachim B. Hansen and Pole Adrian Meronk.

Defending champion Paul Casey was then in all-English group at six under alongside Marcus Armitage, Tommy Fleetwood, Sam Horsfield and Lee Westwood.

Player Quotes

Justin Harding: “Made some putts, to be fair. I've driven the ball well, I didn't drive it that great yesterday. Hit it in the sand rather than the rough and makes it a bit easier. I rolled the ball pretty good. For the most part, kept bogeys off the card.

“Hit the fairway on the longer, tougher par fours. Ultimately just grinding. It was a grind of a day today to be fair. Just bonus there on 6.

“I've played this golf course well over the years. Had a good final round a couple years back and was in contention last year and played badly on the Sunday. I can't really say the golf course - it's just one of those where you just have to get through it.

“I played quite nicely last week. Barring a bad finish, would have been a top ten result. Game seems to be close. Just a matter if I can control the putter and make some putts, we are always going to be there and thereabouts, which is nice.”

Tyrrell Hatton: “Happy with that. Didn't get off to a great start with a bogey on the first hole, battled back from there and played a lot of good golf today and hope that can continue into the weekend. I gave myself plenty of opportunities most of the day and putted lovely. Holed a couple of good par putts when I needed to, and yeah, momentum was on my side today.

“I've had good results in the past and the course has been pretty good to me over the years and played pretty well last week. Game feels like it's in a pretty good spot, so see how we go.

“It would be pretty special to win this tournament. I remember when I was at school, waking up early in the morning to start watching it, and it's always been a tournament that growing up I wanted to play in.
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