Dubai – England’s Eddie Pepperell tweaked his putting grip and reaped the benefits to lead the Dubai Desert Classic after a second round 67 on Friday.
After missing his last two cuts the 29-year-old switched to the claw grip which served his fellow countryman Lee Westwood so well when winning in Abu Dhabi last weekend.
With changes to his swing too Pepperell made the most of lighter winds to move to eight under, one shot clear of American defending champion Bryson DeChambeau, South African Dean Burmester and Swede Robert Karlsson.
“I think regardless of what your hands are doing on the grip, great putters tend to look quite comfortable,” whose two European Tour wins came in Qatar and the British Masters in 2018.
“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.”
His round featured seven birdies, with the one dropped shot coming at the par four sixth.
DeChambeau rattled off three opening birdies in what he described as “a great start to the day”.
“I thought I could maybe birdie them all but that was too high of a goal, obviously,” the 26-year-old Californian added.
Tommy Fleetwood, the 2017 Race to Dubai Champion, produced the best round of the week so far with a 65, 10 shots better than his effort on Thursday, to leave him in a tie for 11th, four shots off the lead.
Overnight leader Thomas Pieters was unable to match his first round 67, the former Ryder Cup winner slumping to a share of 32nd, eight shots adrift after a 77.
Leading and selected second-round scores from the European Tour’s Dubai Desert Classic on Friday (par 72/GBR & IRL unless stated):
136 – Eddie Pepperell 69-67
137 – Robert Karlsson (SWE) 69-68, Dean Burmester (RSA) 69-68, Bryson DeChambeau (USA) 70-67
138 – Wu Ashun (CHN) 69-69, Romain Langasque (FRA) 69-69
139 – Christiaan Bezuidenhout (RSA) 73-66, Victor Perez (FRA) 73-66, Sebastian Heisele (GER) 70-69, Kurt Kitayama (USA) 69-70
140 – Matthieu Pavon (FRA) 69-71, Tommy Fleetwood 75-65, Lucas Herbert (AUS) 69-71, Adri Arnaus (ESP) 72-68
141 – Grant Forrest 73-68, Viktor Hovland (NOR) 71-70, Shane Lowry 72-69
142 – Henrik Stenson (SWE) 72-70
143 – Martin Kaymer (GER) 72-71, Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 71-72, Sergio Garcia (ESP) 71-72
144 – Ian Poulter 71-73, Thomas Pieters (BEL) 67-77
145 – Matthew Fitzpatrick 74-71
146 – Lee Westwood 78-68, Danny Willett 76-70
148 – Bernd Wiesberger (AUT) 76-72
152 – Jazz Janewattananond (THA) 76-76
153 – Matt Wallace 77-76
155 – Shugo Imahira (JPN) 81-74