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Dubai top 10 in sight for Howell
DAVID Howell is targeting a top 10 finish at the Dubai Desert Classic after an excellent round of four-under-par at the Emirates Golf Club today.
The Swindonian is tied 26th on six-under overall ahead of tomorrow’s third outing, six shots behind tournament leader Richard Sterne.
On today's effort, the 1999 Classic champion said: “I played very nicely. I got off to a good start on the tougher front nine and all in all I had no complaints.
“There’s a lot of players above me so it would have to be a great effort to really challenge, but you never know. One good effort on Saturday would get me into double figures.
“When you’re starting the weekend where I am, you’re trying to move into the top 10, that would be a good weekend from here. But it’s one shot at a time.”
Howell began with a six-foot save at the first before carding the first of his four birdies at the second. After an accurate drive, he laid up to within four feet and rolled the putt in.
It was a similar story at the third as another pitch laid the foundations for a second birdie, while a further gain followed at the sixth.
The 37-year-old rolled the ball five feet past the hole from the edge of the green on 10 and burned the lip on 11.
And while that might have been frustrating, Howell had a dose of good luck when he just missed the water with his second shot at 13.
Heading to the 18th off the back of 11 straight pars, the Broome Manor pro sunk a six-footer for birdie to finish in fine style.
Howell is due to tee off at 5.44am GMT tomorrow (9.44am local time) alongside fellow countryman Robert Rock.
South African Sterne held a one-shot lead at the top of the standings after today’s play, with a two-under round of 70 taking him to 12-under overall.
The 31-year-old remains on track for a sixth European Tour victory but Thorbjorn Olesen, Tommy Fleetwood and Stephen Gallacher are breathing down his neck.
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.
“I had a long time sitting at home watching all the guys and especially the South Africans winning, so it's nice to be back in the action and to have a chance.”