Abu Dhabi. Craig Lee and Rafael Cabrera-Bello share the lead


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Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Craig Lee share the lead at the half-way stage of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.


Craig Lee  (Getty Images)

Craig Lee / Getty

Scotland’s Craig Lee  set the clubhouse target on -9  under par after adding a -5 under par 67 to his opening round of 68. He thinks his improvement his down to the extra putting practice. I said yesterday that I hoped a good putting performance would decide this tournament.

Craig commented;

 “I think Santa has brought me a good putting stroke for Christmas. My brother installed an astroturf putting green in my front garden at the end of last year and that’s made a difference as I’ve been able to keep putting every day. It’s 20 feet by 14 feet and the neighbors have been peering over the fence.”

Overnight co-leader Rafa did get to -10 under par with his sixth birdie of the day, but unfortunately dropped a shot at the ninth hole , his last of the day.

Rafa is still very happy with the way he is playing;

“I am playing well, putting good, and putting the ball in play, hitting the fairways and so I’m feeling confident. Pretty much I’m just happy with the way I’m playing with all of the clubs in the bag. There’s nothing that I’m complaining about at the moment.”

Danny Willet is alone in third spot, shooting a fabulous bogey free -9 under par second round of 63, which catapulted him up the leaderboard. He reported that he did not play much different than yesterday, just a few things went his way;

“To be honest I’ve not done a massive amount different. If you miss a fairway by two or three yards and get a bad lie you’ve got no way to get to some of these greens. Today I played nice, hit it a little closer and hit a few more fairways and rolled a few putts in. I holed a wedge from 50 yards on eight for eagle which helps and the last 20-odd holes have been pretty good.”

Of the big guns of Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickleson, Rory is making a move, currently tied in fourth place after his second round -5 under par 67, for a total of -7 under par. He was happy with the result, especially after last year  when he fizzled out with a missed cut after consecutive rounds of 75;

 “Coming off the last green last year I was deflated to say the least. Standing there 30 yards ahead of everyone else is nice. When you are confident with the driver it takes a lot of pressure off your game. I got a few putts to drop on the back nine which was nice and I feel like I have a great chance of winning.”

“It would be nice to win your first start of the season rather than your last start. It’s exactly what I wanted. It’s a great way to test your game under pressure. With a strong start to the year you can really get some momentum.”

Phil was playing alongside Rory and had a front row seat on how he is playing;

“The back nine was really impressive, a beautiful nine holes of golf. He is really striking the ball well. His game looks really sharp and his driving was impeccable.”

The five-time Major winner Phil, who could only muster a -2 under par 70 is way down the field with a -1 under par total. It appears that he is still having problems with his driving, the new Callaway big stick is not performing correctly at the moment.

European Tour, BMW International Open

Fraser and Zanotti show the way

Fabrizio Zanotti -8 under par /  BMW International Open day 1 (Getty Images)

Marcus Fraser and Fabrizio Zanotti scored rounds of -8 under par, in good scoring conditions in Cologne to lead the BMW International Open in the opening round.

Fabrizio had an action packed round, it contained two eagles, seven birdies, a bogey and a double bogey;

“I played very well and made good putts, I only had hit one bad shot and made the double bogey, but I played really good. Tomorrow I’ll just try to play like I did today, come and play the course shot by shot and see what happens. I’m very happy because when I made the double, I made the birdies again. So I kept fighting and concentrating and I kept calm.”

Marcus Fraser said of his day;

It’s great, I played really well, drove the ball really straight, only missed one fairway.  Any time you do that, you’re going to give yourself plenty of chances. The greens were nice this morning and I managed to make a few putts and especially a few at the end, which was great. On 17 I just missed the left edge, so could have been six. But that’s always the story; we’re never happy. I played really well and gave myself a lot of chances so it was nice to roll a few in. Towards the end of last year it felt like everything took a turn for the better and I was heading in the right direction,” he added. “So if you keep giving yourself a chance you never know when it might happen, I just have to keep practicing and playing hard and hopefully it will happen sooner rather than later.”

They lead by one shot from Ireland’s former Ryder Cup vice captain Paul McGinley and English pair Danny Willett and Chris Wood.

Louis Oosthuizen leads at completed third round @ Maybank Malaysian Open

Louis Oosthuizen  (Getty Images)

Louis Oosthuizen (Getty Images)

Louis Oosthuizen lead the Maybank Malaysian open after the completion of the storm affected third round at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.

Danny Willett and Rafael Cabrera-Bello both enjoyed early birdies to move into a share of second with Stephen Gallacher. A lot  time was lost to lightning storms on days two and three, the final round was underway immediately. Will catch up with this tournament later in the day, to see who finally comes out on top.