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DONALDSON STAYS AHEAD IN FOG-HIT OMEGA DUBAI DESERT CLASSIC

England’s Southgate makes hole in one to win luxury OMEGA watch

DUBAI, Jan 26 — Jamie Donaldson held a one-shot advantage as the clubhouse leader in the second round of the fog-delayed Omega Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club on Friday.

The 42-year-old Welshman was unable to recreate the brilliance of his opening 62, but a round of three-under 69 was good enough to keep him perched atop the leaderboard after early morning fog disrupted start of play by two hours and 50 minutes.

All sixty-six afternoon starters, including Rory McIlroy who was three off the pace with seven holes still to complete, were still on the course when play was suspended because of darkness. The round two will resume at 7.30am on Saturday. The third round, a two-tee start in three balls, will not commence before 10.45pm.

China’s Li Haotong reeled off 10 birdies against two bogeys and a double bogey en route to a second round 66 to lead the chasing pack on 12-under, one clear of South Africa’s Branden Grace and two of Thomas Aiken and Miguel Ángel Jiménez.

“I have backed up low scores like that with another one but today it wasn’t to be,” said Donaldson, a three-time winner on the European Tour.

“Quite happy with a 69. Played nicely. Drove the ball well, iron play was good, took my chances when I was close enough to do so. Hit a lot of really good putts that didn’t go in where yesterday they all went in.

“It can always be better, can’t it? Wanted to try to go flag hunting a little bit, which maybe I shouldn’t have done, but happy with how I played.”

England’s Matthew Southgate produced the shot of the day when he scored a hole in one on the seventh to win an exclusive OMEGA Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M men’s watch.

The luxurious 41mm timepiece in 18K Sedna gold and stainless steel features a silvery dial with horizontal “teak” pattern.

The 29-year-old Englishman used a nine iron to ace the 154-yard par-3 hole, becoming the 10th professional to achieve the feat on this challenging since the inception of the European Tour event in 1989 and the 27th overall member of the tournament’s hole-in-one club.

“It was just a really good yardage for me,” he said. “It was really nice. I was aiming at the right lip of the back right bunker and where the wind was, it was just like a perfect target,” said a delighted Southgate.

“Just hit it absolutely perfect then it just started turning into the flag and I knew it had to be good. In the air, I was saying, ‘be the number, be the number’, and when it pitched it was right in line with the flag, a couple of yards short.

“As soon as it pitched, I was like, ‘get in’, and then it just kissed the flag and went in. It’s my first one on Tour. I was chuffed. It was really good. I’ve had a lot just playing with friends and as an amateur but never on the Tour so, seven years waiting, off to a good start this year with one.”

Four-time major winner McIlroy, who is chasing a third win in Dubai, said: “I’m in a good position. It was hard waiting all day to go out there. Got off to a really good start, 3-under through five, and then made my first bogey of the week on the eighth, which was a bad tee shot. I nearly got away with a par but dropped shot.

“But it was nice to get a shot back there on 10 at the end of the round. Hopefully, I can come out in the morning and make a few more birdies and get closer to the lead.”

Elsewhere, Todd Clements of England carded a second round 70 to lead the MENA Tour contingent at five-under after 36 holes ahead of fellow tour members Henric Sturehed (four under), Jamie Elson (two under) and Luke Joy (one under).

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