DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Cameron Young will take a 3-shot lead into the weekend at the Dubai Desert Classic after his 8-under 64 on Friday.

The American golfer, ranked No. 25 and playing in Dubai for the first time, made nine birdies before he bogeyed his final hole -- hitting the water on his second shot on No. 9.

"I putted fantastic. I made a couple long ones yesterday and then made a few more today that kind of had no right going in," said Young, the runner-up at the 2022 Open Championship. "I didn't make too many mistakes."

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Young, who has yet to win on the PGA Tour or European tour, was 13-under 131 overall after two rounds at Emirates Golf Club. Adrian Meronk (66), recently crowned the European tour's player of 2023, and Andy Sullivan (67) were three strokes back.

Nicolai Hojgaard (69) made an eagle on the par-4 17th to join twin Rasmus Hojgaard (70) and Richie Ramsay (68) a further 3 shots back.

Rory McIlroy birdied the 18th to get to 2 under for the day and was 10 shots off the lead. Open champion Brian Harman (71) was a further stroke behind.

McIlroy is a three-time winner of the tournament and is coming off a second-place finish at last week's Dubai Invitational behind Tommy Fleetwood, who was 8 shots off the lead after his 70 on Friday

Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald made a hole-in-one on the par-3 4th with an 8-iron from 183 yards.