Thomas Pieters leads Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
Belgium's Thomas Pieters' bogey-free 65 was the highlight.
Abu Dhabi - Paul Casey sits at nine-under
By KT Report
Published: Fri 19 Jan 2018, 9:45 PM
Last updated: Mon 29 Jan 2018, 5:25 PM
Belgium's Ryder Cup sensation Thomas Pieters' bogey-free 65 made him the man of the moment as he soared to the top of the leaderboard in round two of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA.
Pieters finished at 12-under, one ahead of Spain's Jorge Campillo who added a 64 to Thursday's 69, to finish on 11-under. Round one leader and reigning champion Tommy Fleetwood, who celebrated his 27th birthday on Friday, is well placed on 10-under, alongside fellow Englishman Ross Fisher and Frenchman Alexander Levy. Paul Casey, who has won two previous Championships, sits at nine-under, while World Number One Dustin Johnson will fancy his chances at eight-under, after shooting a flawless 64 to get into contention.
An early start suited Pieters, as he claimed two birdies in his first four holes. He finished the round dramatically chipping in from the bunker on his 18th hole (9th hole) to secure his seventh birdie of the day. Asked if he expected to start his first event of 2018 so well, Pieters said: "Not really! We have a decent game plan. I'm in a positive mind-set, keeping calm, knowing I've done well here in the past and that the course suits me. The greens are perfect, the weather's perfect.
"I'm ball striking well and I hit 16 greens today. That all helps. Off the tee was decent and I rolled in a couple of putts which was nice. So now I am going to eat, practise, and make sure I don't hook and slice anymore, and I'll be ready for tomorrow." Thirty-one-year-old Spaniard Jorge Campillo tied the low round of the day with an impressive 64, a shot behind Pieters, to take him into second place on 11-under. Campillo said:
"I always like to come here to Abu Dhabi and play golf. I've had a Top-10 here, and I normally play well. So I do like the course. I think it's a fair course. It's tough but it's playing easy, but it can play hard with the wind. It seems having practised hard this winter that the work is paying off.
Brit Ross Fisher produced another solid round of 67, matching his efforts of five-under on day one. Fisher soon got into his stride and didn't let a bogey on the sixth put him off, as he went on to hole six birdies, including his last two holes: "Today felt marginally better and was another solid day. I didn't really miss many shots, except that sloppy bogey playing the sixth. But I'm obviously delighted with the two days' work, all safely through to the weekend."