28 JANUARY 2023 - DP WORLD TOUR: Thomas Pieters produced fireworks late in his second round as he shot seven birdies on the back nine to share the lead at the halfway stage of the 2023 Hero Dubai Desert Classic.

The Belgian suffered the disappointment of missing the cut at last week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship as his title defence fell flat, but the 31-year-old has responded brilliantly at Emirates Golf Club signing for a 67 on Saturday.

The six-time DP World Tour winner led after the weather-affected first day before finishing his second round with a flourish on day three to sit alongside amateur Michael Thorbjornsen and Richard Bland on ten under par.

Pieters had started the day on five under but carded three bogeys and just one birdie on the front nine to appear in danger of missing the cut for the second week in succession. He turned things around on the back nine in the afternoon, as birdies at the tenth, 11th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th and 18th earned him a share of the lead.

Englishman Bland, who had made three birdies in the first four holes of his second round before play was suspended due to fading light on Friday, carded three more birdies and a solitary bogey in his remaining 14 holes on Saturday morning to sign for a second straight 67.

Thorbjornsen joined the pair at the summit late in his round after carding an eagle, seven birdies and one bogey in his 64. The American, who is currently second in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, started at the tenth tee on Saturday and made five birdies in his first six holes before chipping in for a brilliant eagle at the long 18th.

Swede Marcus Kinhult, Scotland's Connor Syme and Spaniard Adri Arnaus sat one shot off the lead on nine under, with World Number One Rory McIlroy among those another stroke back.

Round three will tee off at 07:10 local time on Sunday, with round four scheduled for Monday. 

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