Jimenez hits the front as Montgomerie battles on

Miguel Angel Jimenez, 279th in the world 20 months ago and now 16th, continued his remarkable return to form yesterday.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, 279th in the world 20 months ago and now 16th, continued his remarkable return to form yesterday.

A second-round 65 in the Dubai Desert Classic took the 41-year-old Spaniard from one behind Ernie Els to two in front at the halfway stage. The Welshman Stephen Dodd, winner of the China Open in November, lies third - and in joint fourth are Thomas Bjorn, the South African James Kingston and Colin Montgomerie.

The latter will return to the world's top 50 with a first- or second-place finish, and that would put him in line for a late call-up to next month's Masters at Augusta. At the moment, though, he does not know whether he will be playing in Asia or the United States at the end of this month.

"God knows what my plans are but that's my life, I suppose, on tour," the 41-year-old said. "We take it as it comes."

Ranked 63 at the start of this week, Montgomerie needs to get back into the top 50 to qualify for the Players Championship at Sawgrass from 24 March. Should he fail, he will play in the European Tour-sanctioned Indonesian Open that week.

"I know what I have to do," said the seven-times European No 1, who also needs a top-50 ranking by 28 March to book his Masters place. "I've moved up 20 spots already [this year], so we need another 13 and we'll get there. So I have to try and do well here and then I'm off to the TCL Classic in China to try and do well again.

"But my first goal is the TPC. I've got two tournaments to get into the top 50, and that means at least winning the next one or two." The TCL Classic will be played at Yalong Bay Golf Club on Hainan Island.

Els has yet to have a bogey all week. But by adding only four birdies to his pace-setting 66, he gave a chance to his closest pursuers - and Jimenez took it. The Malaga golfer rolled in eight birdie putts, before a drive into the rough on his closing hole led to a bogey and a 12-under-par total of 132.

"I am like the good wines, you know," said Jimenez. "With age, getting better."

Jimenez's career nose-dived when he took up the chance to play on the US Tour in 2001. He finished 160th on the money list the following season. Since he was not enjoying the lifestyle, it was no hardship to come back.

"The golf is very nice, but I don't find myself comfortable there," he said. "I have my kids and I want them to be around Spanish culture."

A month after his 50th birthday, Montgomerie's playing partner, Greg Norman, had to withdraw because of a bad back. The Australian had problems during his first-round 74, and after treatment his back went into spasm again on the practice range. He hopes to return for The Players Championship.

The defending champion, Mark O'Meara, missed the cut on one over after failing to birdie the par-five last, but the new Ryder Cup captain, Ian Woosnam made it through on one under.

* Britain's Brian Davis continued to impress in his rookie season on the USPGA Tour in the Ford Championship in Florida. The 30-year-old Briton shot an eight-under 64 to tie for the lead with Phil Mickelson, Jose Maria Olazabal and Marco Dawson. Tiger Woods was one behind.

Dubai Desert Classic (Dubai; UAE) Leading second round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 132 M A Jimenez (Sp) 67 65. 134 E Els (SA) 66 68. 135 S Dodd 70 65. 137 J Kingston (SA) 69 68; T Bjorn (Den) 69 68; C Montgomerie 70 67. 138 T Taniguchi (Japan) 70 68; L Westwood 70 68; D Howell 67 71; N Fasth (Swe) 72 66; P Fowler (Aus) 69 69; P Sheehan (Aus) 70 68; B Dredge 70 68; J Donaldson 70 68; G Havret (Fr) 70 68; P Archer 72 66; J Lyle (Aus) 68 70. 139 N Dougherty 69 70; S Osborne 68 71; C Schwartzel (SA) 69 70; R Karlsson (Swe) 69 70; I Garbutt 72 67. Selected: 141 B Curtis (US) 70 71; S Lyle 71 70. 143 I Woosnam 74 69.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam