Dubai Desert Classic: Rafa Cabrera-Bello leads by one

Rafa Cabrera-Bello shot a second straight 67 to take a one shot lead in Dubai

Rafa Cabrera-Bello shot a second straight 67 to take a one shot lead in Dubai

Report issued by European Tour
February 05, 2016: Former champion Rafa Cabrera-Bello called it one of the best putting rounds of his life after storming to the top of the leaderboard at the halfway stage of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic with a second consecutive five under par 67.

The Spaniard, who won here at Emirates Golf Club in 2012, rolled in his 26th and final putt of the day to birdie the 18th hole and establish a one-shot lead over three-time winner Ernie Els, South African Trevor Fisher Jnr and Englishman Danny Willett.

Els is the only player to win three Desert Classic titles (in 1994, 2002 and 2005), and he did his chances of adding a fourth no harm with a 67 to reach nine under, continuing his resurgence following his recent, well-documented putting woes. The highlight was a superb eagle at the par five 18th.

Denmark’s Thorbjørn Olesen, who was tied second alongside Cabrera-Bello in Qatar last week, shot the round of the week so far, a brilliant 64 in the day’s toughest conditions, to jump up the leaderboard to tied fifth on eight under, alongside Englishmen Andy Sullivan and Chris Wood and Dutchman Joost Luiten.

Another former winner, Henrik Stenson, signed for a 68 to move to seven under, but it was a more frustrating day for world number two Rory McIlroy, who was in danger of missing the cut until four birdies in the last six holes gave him a 72 and lifted him into a share of 23rd place.

“Yesterday, I really felt I played great from tee to green. I gave myself lots of chances. I know it’s weird to say they didn’t go in when I shot five under. Today was the exact opposite. I didn’t play as well, as sharp. It was windy. I didn’t quite find my tempo, but the putting was extremely hot today,” informed Rafa Cabrera-Bello. “I rolled one of the best putting rounds of my life today, so that made up for everything else. My game really is very good at the moment. I’m confident I’m doing all parts of the game well. I worked hard over the break and I’m happy to be here competing again and ready.”

“I love this golf course. I’ve played it since ’93 so I know it well. I’ve been feeling better and better since the first week of the season, when it was pretty bad. Things have been coming along a little bit, slowly. But mainly the putter – I’m falling in love on the greens again,” said Ernie Els. “It’s a complete turnaround from a couple weeks ago when I was dreading to get on the greens. I’m actually enjoying it on the greens – the surfaces are just unbelievable and I’ve got a lot more confidence in the stroke and the set-up.”

“I struggled in the wind a little bit and didn’t get off to the best of starts again. I bounced back well and persevered and got something out of the round in the end. It never looked like I was going to shoot better than over par, but to shoot par is not bad, and I just need to make sure I get off to a fast start tomorrow,” said McIlroy.

“But I’ve come back from bigger deficits than this, and this is one of my favourite places. If I can get off to a faster start tomorrow, you never know. I’ll get better conditions, as well, being out a little earlier. The greens and the course in general got very firm and very fast out there, so hopefully I can get out in the morning and post a good score.”

Round 2 scores: (69 players including two amateurs made the cut at 143 (-1)
134 R Cabrera-Bello (Esp) 67 67,
135 D Willett (Eng) 70 65, E Els (RSA) 68 67, T Fisher Jnr (RSA) 67 68,
136 J Luiten (Ned) 69 67, A Sullivan (Eng) 70 66, T Olesen (Den) 72 64, C Wood (Eng) 68 68,
137 H Stenson (Swe) 69 68, A Quiros (Esp) 68 69, B Rumford (Aus) 67 70,
138 B An (Kor) 71 67, J Carlsson (Swe) 71 67, H Porteous (RSA) 72 66, G Stal (Fra) 70 68, G Storm (Eng) 68 70, R Bland (Eng) 69 69,

151 R Ramsay (Sco) 74 77, R Karlberg (Swe) 74 77, J Singh (Ind) 76 75

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