DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Welsh golfer Jamie Donaldson followed his opening 62 with a solid 3-under-par 69 to take the clubhouse lead in the weather-interrupted second round of the Dubai Desert Classic on Friday.
Tee times were delayed for nearly three hours because of thick fog. That led to none of the afternoon groups, including Rory McIlroy and defending champion Sergio Garcia, being able to finish their second round when darkness suspended play.
Donaldson was on 13-under 131 at the halfway stage, with Li Haotong second, one shot behind after a consecutive 66s.
Branden Grace shot 65 to lie third in the clubhouse at 11 under.
Miguel Angel Jimenez showed at 54 he could still compete with the youngsters as he moved to 10 under with a 68. Thomas Aiken (67) was tied with Jimenez.
Among those still on the course, McIlroy was 10 under after 11 holes. Garcia and Henrik Stenson were 6- and 7-under par respectively playing alongside McIlroy.
Tommy Fleetwood was 2 under for the day after 10 holes to move to a 5 under total.
Donaldson, a former Ryder Cup star who was ranked as high as 23 in the world and has fallen to 292, made four birdies and bogeyed the par-3 11th in his 69.
He attributed his return to form to almost two months of not touching his clubs over the winter break.
“We play so much golf all year. I’ve got two young kids; it’s time to have some family time with them for a couple of months and it was great,” said Donaldson, a three-time winner on the European Tour.
“I came out for the season nice and fresh and you’re reacting more to what you’ve turned up with, as opposed to slogging yourself to death over the winter. To each his own. And then nearer the time, start playing a little bit.
“Worked on my putting with Phil Kenyon, and that made a big difference. I have putted much better this week. It’s a case of playing the shots that you know you can play.”
Li, who was a star for the Asia team recently in their narrow loss to Europe in the EurAsia Cup, made a double bogey on the first hole – his 10th – but 10 birdies more than made up for that mishap.
The Chinese who has risen to No. 60 in the world rankings, said the morning delay did not bother him and in fact helped him relax.
“I saw another Chinese player (Wu Ashun) and we stayed in the players’ lounge and played FIFA on PlayStation. So it was fun. Just had a lot of time to relax,” said Li, who won that match 3-1.
The second round will start early, and the third round will be played as a three-ball.