Bob MacIntyre in mix along with English big guns in Omega Dubai Desert Classic

Bob MacIntyre is in the mix at the halfway stage of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic but will need to hold off some of England’s finest in his bid to add to the Scottish success story at Emirates Golf Club.

Bob MacIntyre and caddie Mikey Thompson walk on the 10th in the second round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.

In just his second appearance in the ‘Major in the Middle East’, MacIntyre sits second, one shot behind Belgian Thomas Detry, after backing up an opening 67 on the Majlis Course with an equally-impressive 68.

MacIntrye, who is bidding to emulate Colin Montgomerie (1996) and Stephen Gallacher (2013 and 2014) by getting his hands on the event’s iconic coffee pot trophy, is still riding on the crest of a wave after landing his breakthrough European Tour win in the Cyprus Showdown in November.

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Another victory this weekend could see him climb from 52nd to as high as 33rd in the world rankings, virtually securing a Masters debut in April in the process, but the 24-year-old from Oban has a tougher task on his hands on this occasion.

Clubhouse leader Bob MacIntyre plays his second shot on the 18th hole on the Majlis Course in the second round. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.

World No 19 Tommy Fleetwood is lurking ominously, sitting two shots off the lead after finishing his second circuit with an eagle, while two other proven English winners, European No 1 Lee Westwood and Paul Casey, both a further stroke back.

New world No 5 Tyrrell Hatton can’t be discounted, either, after last week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship winner bounced back from an opening 76 with an eight-under 64 to move into the top 25 on four-under.

McIntyre, who tied for eighth on his debut in the tournament 12 months ago as he returned to action after nursing a wrist injury, was delighted with his bogey-free effort in the second circuit of the event’s 32nd edition.

“It wasn’t as pretty as yesterday’s round, if I am being honest,” MacIntyre, speaking to Sky Sports Golf, admitted afterwards. “It wasn’t as solid, but it’s the way golf is. You can’t have a 72-hole tournament where you play absolutely perfectly.

Thomas Detry lines up a putt on the seventh hole in the second round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.

“I felt out of rhythm early on today, we couldn’t get any momentum within the group, which was difficult. But I hung in there and I putted great.”

Playing alongside Ryder Cup vice captain Robert Karlsson, MacIntyre birdied the 12th, 18th, first and seventh after starting at the tenth.

The last of those birdies typified the way the 2019 European Tour Rookie of the Year plays the game as he attacked a dangerous flag and was rewarded with a splendid 2.

Looking confident about every aspect of his game, the way he played the last - the toughest hole on the course - was also very impressive.

He followed a brilliant drive with an arrow-like approach to around 15 feet and, though leaving the birdie putt agonisingly short, it was a solid day’s work, nonetheless.

“If you miss the fairways and go in that second cut of rough, it’s a lottery,” said the left-hander of the main test this week. “Sometimes you can advance it 180 yards and sometimes you can only move it 100. It’s about finding fairways and greens and trying to hole some putts.”

MacIntyre sits 52nd in the world rankings and has his sights set on securing spots in the Masters, as well as two World Golf Championships, over the coming few weeks.

“It’s a goal of mine,” he said of those events, “but it’s all taken care of by good golf and what I am doing just now is playing good golf.

“I’m starting to find the strike with my irons and, if I can continue to do that, then I should hopefully take care of that.

“But just now I’m sticking to what I’ve been doing over the last two days or last week and a half now and just enjoying myself.

“Mike (Thompson, his caddie) is doing a great job keeping everything in check and keeping me from losing a bit of cool. We’ve just got to enjoy ourselves and see where we end up.”

Detry, who is bidding to land his breakthrough win on the circuit, moved ahead of MacIntyre in the afternoon wave after carding a second successive 67 to sit on 10-under.

“First thing that comes to my mind is bogey-free,” the 28-year-old said of his work so far. “On this course, that's a pretty good achievement. Let's keep it that way.

“I'm moving here in a couple weeks, so winning in my new residence would be amazing.”

Fleetwood, who had to settle for a share of seventh behind Hatton in Abu Dhabi after a poor finish, has wasted no time putting a spring back in his step, helped by signing off his second successive 68 in style.

“Really happy,” he said of that eagle and his position on the leaderboard. “It was pretty tough out there. In the afternoon, the course kind of firms up.

“You had to stay really patient early doors - I didn’t hit a fairway until the 10th hole - and then I managed to get it going a little bit.”

Hatton, who has recorded four big wins in the past 14 months, jumped 92 spots on the back of a plucky round that included an eagle and eight birdies.

“I'm pretty happy with that round of golf, to be honest,” he said. “Going out today the goal was to try to make the cut after yesterday's disappointing start.

“So I'm really happy that I'm going to be here for the weekend. Hoping that I can push on now and see where we go.”

Scott Jamieson sits joint-27th on two-under after a 71 that included a triple-bogey 7, with Grant Forrest (69) and Richie Ramsay (72) the other Scots left standing on one-under.

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