Cabrera-Bello leads in Dubai, Els banishes yips


Ernie Els appears to have banished the yips as he sits just a shot behind leader Rafa Cabrera-Bello at the halfway mark in the Dubai Desert Classic, while defending champion Rory McIlroy was in danger of missing the cut before a back-nine recovery on Friday.

Four-time major champion Els endured what he rates as probably the worst year of his career in 2015 following struggles with his short game.

Els opted to switch to a cross-handed grip and that appears to have done the trick for the popular South African, who followed up an opening 68 with a five-under 67 to go nine under for the tournament.

The 46-year-old is the only player to have won this tournament three times and looked very much at home at Emirates Golf Club once again and Els - who started on the back nine - conjured up an eagle three at the 18th and also made three birdies.

Els holds the course record of 61 at the Majlis and is an astonishing 181 under par through his 54 completed rounds, so it may come as no surprise that he has come good this week.

He looked set to hold a share of the lead heading into the weekend until Cabrera-Bello - champion in 2012 - birdied the last to card a second successive 67 which puts him one shot ahead of Els, Danny Willett and Trevor Fisher Jnr.

Cabrera-Bello, who started the day tied for second, make six birdies and just one bogey to seize a lead which was held by Alex Noren after the first round - with the Swede dropping back to three-under with a 75.

Willett teed off on two under, but a dazzling seven-under 65 saw him surge 27 places up the leaderboard.

The Englishman also started on the back nine and made gains at the 10th, 13th and 14th before adding another four birdies on the stretch to put himself in a promising position.

Fisher Jnr followed up a 67 with a second round of 68, while McIlroy got himself out of trouble to finish four under for the tournament.

The world number two was four over for the day through 11 holes, but stopped the rot with a birdie at 13 and then finished his round with three birdies on the spin to salvage a level par 72.