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Harding birdies 18th hole twice, leads by 3 shots in Dubai

Justin Harding birdied the 18th hole twice at Emirates Golf Club on Friday on the way to taking a three-shot lead midway through the second round of the Dubai Desert Classic.

The No. 122-ranked South African returned to the Majlis course early to complete his first round with a tap-in birdie at the last to join JB Hansen in a tie for the lead on 7-under 65. He then shot a 68 to move ahead outright on 11 under overall in the $8 million Rolex Series event.

There was a 22-foot putt on No. 18 for one of four birdies in his second round, while Harding burst out laughing after holing out for eagle from 183 yards from the middle of the fairway at the par-4 sixth hole.

Justin Harding of South Africa reacts on the 13th hole during the second round of the Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Jan. 28, 2022. (AP PhotoKamran Jebreili)

Erik van Rooyen (67) and Fabrizio Zanotti (70) were tied for second place.

Hansen was one of the few players high up the leaderboard to fail to shoot under par on a calm day in Dubai. The Dane shot even-par 72 and dropped to a tie for fourth with Viktor Hovland (69), Richard Bland (68) and Adrian Meronk (68).

Rory McIlroy and Collin Morikawa were among the afternoon starters.

Viktor Hovland of Norway plays a shot on the 10th hole during the second round of the Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Jan. 28, 2022. (AP PhotoKamran Jebreili)

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Joachim B. Hansen of Denmark plays a shot on the 10th hole during the second round of the Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Friday, Jan. 28, 2022. (AP PhotoKamran Jebreili)