DeChambeau leads in Dubai as defending champion Li closes in

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The highest-ranked player in the field at No. 5 in the world, DeChambeau pulled away from the chasing pack with three birdies in his first three holes and increased his lead to six with an eagle on the 10th and a birdie on the 11th.

The frustration of not making a birdie on the par-five 18th, and missing a short birdie putt on the 14th hole, was evident after his round. "I'm still leading and obviously that's fantastic and I couldn't be displeased with that".

Three-time champion Els (70) showed plenty of patience on a tough scoring day when the greens were playing tricky after drying up in the steady breeze.

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"Whether it's air pressure, firmness values, miles per hour on the ball speed, spin rates...we're trying to figure out as much as possible so I can be as consistent as possible and obviously it's showing".

Although DeChambeau will not move up in the world rankings on the back of this win, he will close the gap on the four players above him and has his sights set on Justin Rose in top spot. 'But with my expectation levels, and how I know I can perform, I feel like I'm underperforming a little bit'.

"(But) I want to have my best game, I want to be comfortable hitting shots, so that's what I am working towards.

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Things were looking much the same after he started his second round with three birdies through the first 13 holes, but disaster struck on the 15th and 16th as Fox tallied back-to-back double bogeys that saw him plummet down the leaderboard. The old record for lowest tournament aggregate was set past year by Li Haotong (23-under par).

"It would definitely mean a lot (to win again)". Actually, my long game was way better than the last couple days. Just going on the memory bank, I guess.

The US star shot another six-under 66 around the iconic Majlis course to head into the weekend on 12-under, tied with Australian Lucas Herbert.

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