Westwood fires a 65 to close gap on Jaidee

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The Independent Online

The World No 4 Lee Westwood fired a flawless 65 yesterday in his best showing in 50 rounds at Emirates Golf Club to jointly head the pack chasing the Asian number one Thongchai Jaidee who is at seven-under with a one shot lead at the half-way point of the Dubai Desert Classic.

Westwood sits alongside the early pacesetters Stephen Dodd and Miguel Angel Jimenez. Jaidee carded a bogey-free second round of 66, Jimenez returned seven birdies in a 67, while Wales' Dodd remained in contention with a 69.

Westwood is still not satisfied with his new driver after cracking the face of his previous club in Qatar, but continued his love affair with Dubai following his superb World Championship success at the end of last year.

After earning a share of the lead with an excellent up-and-down from the rough after driving the short par-four 17th, the 36-year-old missed a 10-foot birdie chance at the last after a poor tee shot forced him to lay up. He was tempted to try to carry the lake guarding the front of the green, but after a warning from his caddie Billy Foster and seeing player partner Henrik Stenson find the water, opted to play safe.

"We have had the hardest conditions over the first couple of days in the morning and then the afternoon but you try and make the best of whatever is thrown at you," said Westwood, who opened with a 72 on the first day. "And if you come out on the right end of that obviously it .gives you a massive confidence boost"

The defending champion Rory McIlroy (70), Edoardo Molinari (70), Alvaro Quiros (69), Australia's Marcus Fraser (68) and Charl Schwartzel (70) are all well placed at six under, with a two-shot gap to Paul Casey (71), Graeme McDowell (68) and Jeev Milkha Singh (72).