Eddie Pepperell was happy to feel his way around Emirates Golf Club as he carded a round of 67 to take a one shot lead into the weekend at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
Lighter winds made for better scoring in round two and the Englishman took advantage to move to eight under par, a shot clear of defending champion Bryson DeChambeau, South African Dean Burmester and Sweden’s Robert Karlsson.
Pepperell has missed his last two cuts and has gone back to some old drills and switched to a claw putting grip as he looks to kickstart his 2020 Race to Dubai campaign, while Burmester revealed in his post round interview that he has adopted a new mental attitude after being involved in a car accident ahead of the tournament.
His family were also involved in the collision on Wednesday, with all members thankfully escaping with only minor injuries. A sore ankle did not look to bother him as he carded a round of 68 on day two to put himself in contention heading into the weekend.
Frenchman Romain Langasque and China’s Wu Ashun are two shots off the lead at six under par, a shot clear of South Africa’s Christiaan Bezuidenhout, German Sebastian Heisele, American Kurt Kitayama and another Frenchman in Victor Perez.
Tommy Fleetwood fired the lowest score of the day with an impressive round of 65, edging his way back up the leaderboard to head the chasing pack at four under par.
Eddie Pepperell: “I’ve played with swing feels for a few years and I have a couple of drills that have given me some quite strong ones and that’s where I’ve had a lot of success, to be honest. It might look very technical with me but believe it or not in my mind it doesn’t feel that way, at least certainly when I’m doing pretty good, because it’s all about feeling
“I felt more calm today, I would say. Actually, I would tend to feel more calm as the week goes on at most tournaments. I was happy with how I was feeling early and I got off to a nice start. For the most part it was very, very good until the cameras came along. I must have been concerned with how I was looking, because then I started struggling.
“When I looked at my putting in the past I’ve always felt that when I look at my setup I’ve never looked that comfortable. Regardless of what your hands are doing on the grip, great putters tend to look quite comfortable. So that’s one thing I’ve never liked about my setup. It’s been very good the past two days and I’ve been surprised with how good it’s been. If I can keep doing that over the weekend, with what I’ve been doing with the swing, I think I’m going to make plenty of birdies which would be great.”
Bryson DeChambeau: “My wedge game has been immaculate, my putting has been – for the most part – a success, and iron play has kept me in the proper place. Hit a couple of nice drives today and getting better with my driving, just got to iron out a couple more things when the pressure gets to me or certain situations occur.
“Well it (his increased yardage) has opened new boundaries that I never thought were possible. I don’t know necessarily how to control all of it yet, but I’m getting to the place where I’m starting to learn with driver I need, under the gun, in certain conditions, a left-to-right wind, a right-to-left wind, what to do and how to apply that power in a way that’s going to keep me in the fairway and allow me to have more scoring opportunities. It’s a gigantic leap for me.
“I would say it (his improved pace of play) is about getting just more comfortable on the golf course, recognising the fact that I’m not perfect. I make mistakes and I made mistakes in the past but working on improving everything. That’s my whole goal for the game of golf is not only to make myself a better player but to have people have a more enjoyable experience when I’m around. And that’s really what I’m trying to do, so I don’t bother anybody on the golf course, that’s the last thing I want to do. I made it a point to work on it and I’ve gotten a little bit better and I think it shows.”
Dean Burmester: “The accident was pretty hectic. We went to the aquarium and on our way back we took an Uber on the way back to the hotel. There was traffic on the other side of a blind rise and so we went into the back of a Porsche. There were four cars involved, but luckily we just got away with a couple of bumps and bruises and just thank God that we’re all okay.
“I think for the most part I putted really well and I’ve just been consistent trying to hit fairways, because the rough’s quite deep. So, for me to hit fairways is pretty good. I think the major difference is probably my mental attitude towards it.
“After the car accident you realise what’s important in life and I think I was taking golf a little too seriously, so I just kind of relaxed and looked at the family. We’re just enjoying our time, so that’s been the biggest difference.”
Robert Karlsson: “Yesterday, on a very tough day, I kept the ball in play and when I missed I was a little bit lucky. I hit it in the fairway bunkers instead of the rough and I holed a lot of important putts. Today I actually hit more fairways and it was obviously much nicer weather. I played nicely today.
“The tricky thing (with the course set up) is we had a couple of years where they set it up a little bit nicer around the greens, with less rough. I think players want to have a bit tougher conditions and I’m very, very happy the way that they set it up. That’s been my personal response from the players. The problem on this golf course is there’s a lot of doglegs where you cut across, so it’s really hard to hit fairways on holes like 1 and 6 and 18. But everybody knows it and you play for it, so, but I like it.”
Round two scores
136 E Pepperell (Eng) 69 67,
137 B Dechambeau (USA) 70 67, D Burmester (RSA) 69 68, R Karlsson (Swe) 69 68,
138 R Langasque (Fra) 69 69, A Wu (Chn) 69 69,
139 V Perez (Fra) 73 66, K Kitayama (USA) 69 70, S Heisele (Ger) 70 69, C Bezuidenhout (RSA) 73 66,
140 T Fleetwood (Eng) 75 65, A Arnaus (Esp) 72 68, M Pavon (Fra) 69 71, L Herbert (Aus) 69 71,
141 S Lowry (Irl) 72 69, V Hovland (Nor) 71 70, G Forrest (Sco) 73 68,
142 J Singh Brar (Eng) 71 71, M Keyser (RSA) 74 68, S Norris (RSA) 69 73, M Kawamura (Jpn) 69 73, J Smith (Eng) 72 70, H Stenson (Swe) 72 70, T Lewis (Eng) 73 69,
143 N Elvira (Esp) 73 70, A Otaegui (Esp) 72 71, M Kaymer (Ger) 72 71, D Lipsky (USA) 68 75, S Garcia (Esp) 71 72, K Samooja (Fin) 69 74, L Oosthuizen (RSA) 71 72,
144 M Schwab (Aut) 72 72, G Bhullar (Ind) 73 71, I Poulter (Eng) 71 73, N Bertasio (Ita) 74 70, R Macintyre (Sco) 74 70, J Harding (RSA) 71 73, S Crocker (USA) 72 72, T Pieters (Bel) 67 77, G Green (Mas) 73 71, J Luiten (Ned) 72 72,
145 M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 74 71, B Hebert (Fra) 72 73, D Drysdale (Sco) 74 71, S Jamieson (Sco) 74 71, J Guerrier (Fra) 71 74, M Korhonen (Fin) 74 71, L Gagli (Ita) 75 70, M Fitzpatrick (Eng) 74 71, S Kjeldsen (Den) 69 76, E Van Rooyen (RSA) 70 75, T Detry (Bel) 73 72, J Hansen (Den) 75 70,
146 P Harrington (Irl) 71 75, R Ramsay (Sco) 73 73, N Colsaerts (Bel) 77 69, L Westwood (Eng) 78 68, A Rai (Eng) 77 69, D Willett (Eng) 76 70, S Soderberg (Swe) 71 75, J Winther (Den) 76 70, J Scrivener (Aus) 77 69, C Shinkwin (Eng) 73 73, R Fox (Nzl) 76 70, A Björk (Swe) 77 69, D Law (Sco) 75 71, T Pulkkanen (Fin) 73 73, Z Lombard (RSA) 71 75, R Wattel (Fra) 70 76, M Jiménez (Esp) 72 74, N Møller (Den) 74 72,
147 A Johnston (Eng) 76 71, B Poke (Den) 76 71, G McDowell (Nir) 72 75, R Fisher (Eng) 75 72, J Morrison (Eng) 75 72, M Kieffer (Ger) 77 70, J Schaper (am) (RSA) 71 76,
148 W Ormsby (Aus) 74 74, S Horsfield (Eng) 72 76, O Fisher (Eng) 72 76, R Rock (Eng) 74 74, P Larrazábal (Esp) 73 75, T Lee (Kor) 72 76, H Porteous (RSA) 75 73, D Horsey (Eng) 77 71, J Lagergren (Swe) 79 69, M Southgate (Eng) 74 74, S Brown (Eng) 77 71, B Wiesberger (Aut) 76 72,
149 A Quiros (Esp) 75 74, R Cabrera Bello (Esp) 76 73, R Paratore (Ita) 73 76, J Wang (Kor) 79 70, P Waring (Eng) 77 72, D Howell (Eng) 80 69, R Sterne (RSA) 75 74, M Kinhult (Swe) 75 74,
150 J Walters (RSA) 78 72, D Gaunt (Aus) 78 72, A Chesters (Eng) 75 75, T Aiken (RSA) 74 76, S Gallacher (Sco) 73 77, G Migliozzi (Ita) 75 75, E Molinari (Ita) 76 74,
151 R McEvoy (Eng) 78 73,
152 B Stone (RSA) 73 79, S Hend (Aus) 73 79, R Højgaard (Den) 75 77, S Sharma (Ind) 77 75, J Janewattananond (Tha) 76 76, A Levy (Fra) 81 71,
153 P Lawrie (Sco) 77 76, O Wilson (Eng) 75 78, C Paisley (Eng) 76 77, M Wallace (Eng) 77 76,
154 H Li (Chn) 78 76, F Zanotti (Par) 75 79, J Hill (am) (Eng) 77 77,
155 S Imahira (Jpn) 81 74,
156 V Dubuisson (Fra) 81 75, G Storm (Eng) 83 73, J Campillo (Esp) 76 80, R Jacquelin (Fra) 79 77,
157 C Wood (Eng) 79 78,
158 A Pavan (Ita) 76 82, A Marjan (Mar) 79 79,
160 H Konig (Eng) 80 80,
162 G Coetzee (RSA) 82 80,
171 O Almulla (Ksa) 83 88,
** A Sullivan (Eng) DQ 0, T Bjørn (Den) RT 0,