Abu Dhabi: Overnight joint leader Justin Rose held the top spot on the leaderboard on his own at the end of the second day of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, while the world’s top two players Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods made shock early exits.
Another consistent round from England’s world number five in the US$2.7 million (Dh13.2 million) event helped him shoot a three-under-par 69 to put him top with an eight-under 136.
Meanwhile, McIlroy finished well outside the cut line following another 75, while playing partner Woods appeared to have made it into the weekend before he was hit with a two-stroke penalty for a rules infringement that appeared to end his challenge.
Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez Castano, Welshman Jamie Donaldson and Dane Thorbjorn Olesen finished one shot behind the overall leader, while South African Garth Mulroy and Dutchman Joost Luiten are tied for fifth what has become a very open and competitive event.
A delighted Rose said: “It was a nice way to finish. I felt like I hit the ball pin high an awful lot today, and I guess that often tells you that you are swinging the club well, so I felt good about my game.”
Donaldson started off with two birdies, but a bogey at the fifth hole halted his run. On the back nine he started and ended with birdies, and made a fifth of the round at the 15th hole. But two bogeys kept him one shot behind Rose.
“I probably played better today in places than yesterday. Yeah, it was a solid day. It was tough out there but, saying that, the wind wasn’t as windy as yesterday, which made scoring slightly easier. But I’m in a good position and I’m happy,” the Welshman said.
Castano, who shot a round of 65 here last year, is hoping to start off Saturday’s third round with a bogey. “Both days I started with a bogey at the first, so apparently that’s what I have to do tomorrow to make the birdies come,” said the world number 33, whose five-under 67 was the best score of the second round.
Olesen said he was pleased that his three-under-par 69 put him within striking distance of the Falcon Trophy.
“It was really nice, especially with the round yesterday the way I finished with a bogey, so it’s nice to get a bogey free round today,” he said.
Kaymer, who won here in 2008, 2010 and 2011, outshone playing partners McIlroy and Woods.
The German fired three birdies in his first nine holes and started his back nine with three more in the first four holes. But three consecutive bogeys halted his charge somewhat, although the three-time Abu Dhabi champion was relatively happy with his display.
He said: “It was okay. I wouldn’t say I played great. I putted very well and that kept me in the tournament but overall, I need to hit more fairways,” Kaymer said.