DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Thomas Bjorn closed with two birdies to tie Rory McIlroy for the second-round lead at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, two shots clear of Martin Kaymer who moved into contention with his first hole-in-one on Friday.
McIlroy, three shots behind after the first round, sunk seven birdies -- including a 25-yard chip-in on No. 8 -- to overtake first-round leader Rafael Cabrera-Bello with a 13-under total of 131. His score could have better but his eagle putt on the 18th lipped out and then he just missed a birdie putt on the first.
2012 OMEGA DUBAI DESERT CLASSIC
The Omega Dubai Desert Classic debuted in 1989 as the first event in what is now become the European Tour's Middle East Swing.
“I was never really under pressure in any point of the round,” said McIlroy, the 2009 Dubai champion who has led going into the weekend for the past four years.
"This was very stress-free golf; fairways most of the time, a lot of greens, and gave myself a lot of looks. So overall, really pleased with how I played today. Obviously looking forward to the weekend.”
McIlroy said he was most happy with his driving, after inconsistencies in that department were a factor in his finishing second at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship two weeks ago.
“I’ve put that right for the most part and felt really confident off the tee,” he said.
It appeared McIlroy might run away with the lead. But others also took advantage of pristine conditions at Emirates Golf Club.
Bjorn, who beat Tiger Woods to win the tournament in 2001, started his charge on the ninth when he made three birdies in a row and closed with another pair in a bogey-free 7-under 65.
“I went out and played some solid stuff all day. I’ve done that for quite a long time,” Bjorn said. “I have just got to try and keep focused, keep going with what I am doing. I am not making too many big mistakes out there and that is the key to playing this golf course.”
Kaymer (67) kept pace for much of the day, holding a share of the lead after 11. But then McIlroy birdied the 12th and Kaymer three-putted for a bogey on his 13th. But just when it looked like he might fall down the leaderboard, he made a hole-in-one on his 16th, hitting an 8-iron 180 yards.
“It was very similar to yesterday, hit a lot of good tee shots, a lot of fairways, a lot of good iron shots,” Kaymer said. “I didn’t make a lot of mistakes so that creates a lot of birdie chances. If I keep playing like this and avoiding mistakes, I think I’ll be fine.”
Lee Westwood (65) hit some of the best shots of the day. He closed with three birdies, including on the 16th where his approach shot rolled to within a foot of the cup, and on 18 where his eagle chip just skidded past the hole.
“I persevered really,” Westwood said. “I gave myself a lot of chances out there and kept burning the hole. Just left a few putts hanging on the edges and I just had to be really patient and hit closer, and it was nice do that on 16 and 17.”
The string of strong finishes sets up the prospect that three of the world’s top golfers -- No. 1-ranked Luke Donald is not here -- could be competing for the title on Sunday.
That was not lost on Kaymer, who has twice beaten McIlroy on the final day in Abu Dhabi.
“The only thing that matters is the trophy, to leave Sunday afternoon knowing you have beaten everyone. That is the pure satisfaction,” Kaymer said. “A few players say the want to win, but they don’t want it as much as others. Rory is one of those people. He really wants to win.”
Despite two bogeys, Cabrera-Bello (69) finished with a string of birdies to remain one shot behind the leaders at 12 under and in sole possession of third place.
Kaymer was on 11 under with Scott Jamieson (68) and Gregory Bourdy (67).
Westwood was a stroke further back with Marcel Siem (69) and Stephen Gallacher, who matched McIlroy’s 65.
The low round of the day went to Henrik Stenson of Sweden, who had seven birdies and an eagle to go with two bogeys for an 8-under 64. He was tied with Tano Goya at 8 under overall.