Dubai: Jeev Milkha Singh went one step better than his opening round, carding a brilliant five-under 67 on day two to move into the top-10 at the midway stage of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic on Friday.
Jeev, who carded 68 in the first round, took his total to nine-under 135, to stay just three shots behind the leader, Richard Sterne, who birdied the final hole at Emirates Golf Club to secure a narrow one shot halfway lead.
Also making the cut for the third week in a row was SSP Chowrasia, who shot two-under 70, after carding 69 in the opening round, to total five-under 139. He was tied 42nd as the cut fell at three-under.
Sterne followed his scintillating opening 62 with two-under 70 to lie 12-under overall, one ahead of Scotland's Stephen Gallacher and two of The European Tour's rising stars - Dane Thorbjorn Olesen and England's Tommy Fleetwood.
Jeev, who started on the tenth, opened with a birdie and added three more on 15th, 16th and 18th and then a fifth birdie on first as he moved into the top-five.
Then came a blip as he dropped shots on second and fifth. But birdies on seventh and eighth took him back to five-under for the day.
"I pushed my drive to the right and then I hit too hard and too high into the stands (on the 18th). But I got a free drop and then I made a good chip and a good putt for a par," said Jeev.
"It was excellent putting. This kind of a round I would credit to my team, my coach Jamie (for putting) and Amritinder, my friend and coach, have helped with my swing.
"I just love it here (Dubai). The atmosphere here is fantastic. It is almost like home and my sponsors, Golf in Dubai, too are here," added Jeev.
Chowrasia had a birdie-birdie start from tenth but dropped a shot on 17th to turn in one-under. On the second stretch, the front side of the course, he birdied third and eighth and dropped a bogey on sixth.
"I am hitting the ball well and best of all I am confident with game," said Chowrasia, who has made the cut in each of the three legs of the Middle East. "That sure gives a good feeling and adds to the confidence."
The 31-year-old Sterne was unable to match his spectacular opening effort, but stayed on track for a sixth European Tour victory and first since a serious back injury restricted him to just ten appearances in two years.
World Number Eight Lee Westwood has six shots to make up - and more than 25 players to get past - after a bitterly disappointing finish.
Sergio Garcia is only three behind despite a shoulder problem which he thought might lead to his withdrawal, while former Ryder Cup Captain José María Olazábal shot a 67 to be tied 20th.
Sterne said: "The course was a lot tougher with the wind and the greens definitely firmed out a bit.
"I think it's going to be quite tricky coming to the weekend. There's a lot of guys bunched up and you're going to have to play pretty well to be there on Sunday."
Story first published on: Friday, 01 February 2013 23:36 IST