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