Richard Bland boasts share of lead at halfway stage in Dubai Desert Classic

Englishman Richard Bland holds a share of the lead at the halfway stage of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic after posting two successive rounds of 67.

The 49-year-old returned to complete his second round on Saturday morning after making three birdies over the first four holes before play was suspended due to fading light on Friday.

And he carded three more birdies and a solitary bogey in his remaining 14 holes to set the target at 10 under par.

Belgium’s Thomas Pieters joined Bland at the summit after closing his Saturday 67 with seven birdies on the back nine before American amateur Michael Thorbjornsen made it a three-way tie.

Thorbjornsen carded an eagle, seven birdies and one bogey in his 64 to grab a share of the lead.

Scotland’s Connor Syme, Swede Marcus Kinhult and Spaniard Adri Arnaus sat one shot off the lead on nine under.

The pre-tournament build-up had been dominated by a war of words between Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and American Patrick Reed, who were another stroke back on eight under but will play in different groups in Sunday’s third round.

Joining the pair on that number were Englishmen Matt Wallace, Dan Bradbury and Ian Poulter, Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger, Australian Lucas Herbert and Spain’s Angel Hidalgo.

Bland has made just one bogey in the opening two rounds and is happy with where his game is at.

He said: “Every part of my game is in pretty good shape.

“The only dropped shot was at the sixth this morning where (on my) second hole of the day, I misjudged the temperature and chipped to three feet and missed.

“So other than that, it’s been pretty stress-free which is kind of nice.”