KAYMER KICKS ON IN THE CAPITAL

The German goes out in front on 12-under after day two, putting him 124-under par over 40 rounds at Abu Dhabi Golf Club

SOUNDBITES: Kaymer (Link) and Cabrera Bello discuss their rounds (Link)

20 January 2017, Abu Dhabi, UAE: Three-time Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship winner Martin Kaymer once again showed his prowess at Abu Dhabi Golf Club with a second round of 66 to lead by a shot heading into moving day.

Kaymer’s second 66 of the week included six birdies, an eagle and a bogey, with a clutch birdie putt on the 18th putting him out in front of Rafa Cabrera Bello, who moved to 11-under for the tournament after his morning round of 66. Ireland’s Paul Dunne, England’s Tommy Fleetwood and Kiradech Aphibarnrat sit in tied-third on 10-under, with Henrik Stenson and 2014 Champion Pablo Larrazabal among the four-man group at 9-under.

Asked if he expected to start his first event of 2017 so well, Kaymer said: “You never know, after a long break like that. I didn't play a tournament for seven weeks. Then you come out here and shoot 12-under par after two rounds, obviously a brilliant start.

“For me it's always a nice tournament to start my season with. I've won here a few times in the past. It's a good feeling with the practice that you put in over the last two months pays off right away. So far, very positive.

“But I felt like I played a little bit better than yesterday. It was a bit more difficult today with the wind, especially the first nine. I struck the ball a little bit better and I made a few long putts today, same as yesterday.”

Cabrera Bello, who finished 8th in last season’s Race to Dubai, capitalised on superb conditions on The National Course to set an early clubhouse lead.

“Obviously happy again,” beamed Cabrera Bello. “I felt I continued the line of play of yesterday. I played really good.

“It was very nice this morning. Not a breath of wind. The ball was rolling on the green perfectly. I managed to putt very good and kept myself out of trouble. Didn't do those mistakes I did yesterday off the tee. In the end, very pleased with minus six.”

Headline American duo Dustin Johnson and defending Champion Rickie Fowler began to show signs of their world-class ability on day two, as the pair shot matching rounds of 68 to beat the 2-under cut mark.

“It would have been nice to play the last couple a little bit better,” said Fowler after his round. “But solid day. Obviously left myself kind of up against the wall yesterday to make sure I got into the weekend today. Happy about that. We'll keep building on that.”

The joint-lowest round of day two came from amateur Curtis Luck, a beneficiary of a Championship invite. The talented Australian carded a 7-under par 65 to sit comfortably in tied-12th heading into the final two days. Luck’s fellow amateur in the field, UAE-based Rayhan Thomas, produced an impressive display for his 17 years, but a round of 75 left him five shots short of the cut on his second European Tour appearance.

The tournament saw a bumper crowd on ‘Ladies Day’, as visitors soaked up the sun and activities in the Village. A highlight of the day saw lucky Championship-goer Megan Derricott win a trip for two to New York Fashion Week with Etihad Airways in the highly contested ‘Best Dressed’ competition, judged by Emirates Woman magazine.

The fun continues tomorrow (Saturday) with the Championship offering free entry for anyone wearing Championship red. Fans, families and friends will enjoy sports activities, delicious food truck cuisine and competitions in the Championship Village, in between watching the likes of Henrik Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Martin Kaymer compete on course.

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is presented by Abu Dhabi Sports Council and runs until Sunday 22 January 2017 at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Tickets and tailored packages are available from www.ticketmaster.ae/artist/abu-dhabi-hsbc-championship-tickets/929325 at AED 50 for a daily pass. Guests staying at any Abu Dhabi hotel over the Championship period enter free. For more information, visit www.abudhabigolfchampionship.com.