Johnson sets course record to take Saudi International lead

Dustin Johnson charged into a three-shot lead at the Saudi International after an inspired 61 on day two at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club.

The world number three carded a new course record on Friday as he took advantage of calmer conditions to roll in seven birdies and an eagle on his way to 11 under.

Johnson – starting on the back nine – began his charge with back-to-back gains before adding two more by the turn, however he was still trailing Zander Lombard by three.

As the birdies began to dry up for Lombard, Johnson turned on the style, picking up another five shots on his way home to move clear of the chasing pack.

“It was really good,” said Johnson. “You always have fun when you’re playing well.

“I did a lot of the same things I did yesterday. The greens rolled a little bit better today. I just trusted the line that I was playing and made some putts today.

“It was a very good round. I played really solid all day and gave myself a lot of opportunities.”

Lombard finished with a respectable 67 – his round spoiled by bogeys at the ninth and 12th – to give him a share of second place with Li Haotong, who appears to have quickly put his controversial punishment at the Dubai Desert Classic behind him.

The pair sit at eight under, with Fabrizio Zanotti and Scott Hend a further shot back after rounds of 66 and 63 respectively.

Overnight leader Thomas Pieters endured a miserable day as he dropped out of contention, the Belgian signing for a four-over 74 to leave him in a tie for 18th on three under.