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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship: Round 2 as it happened

Coverage of the second round of action at Abu Dhabi Golf Club as Thomas Pieters moved to the front of the field.

6.10pm So that is for the day and what a day it has been. A lot of low scores that has set up a fascinating third round with Thomas Pieters ahead at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, but he has Tommy Fleetwood, Rory McIlroy and world No 1 Dustin Johnson are all in contention.

John McAuley's report of the day's action is here.

Earlier in the day Paul Casey put in a cracking round of 65 to leave himself in with a chance of winning the tournament for a third time. Paul Radley heard what he had to say here.

Thanks again. Keep an eye on the our website for Round 3 tee times, which should be up on the site very shortly.

Come back on Saturday from 10am for news from Round 3.

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5.45pm There are just a couple of groups left out on the course so things are winding up here on the second day of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, presented by EGA.

It is Thomas Pieters who leads on -12, the Belgian having spent most of the day on top of the leaderboard after carding a seven under 65.

This is how the leaderboard looks

There was a nice moment at the end of play when Rory McIlroy presented playing partner Tommy Fleetwood with a birthday cake to mark the Englishman turning 27 today.

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5.10pm Tommy Fleetwood followed up his birdie on the 17th with another at the 18th to finish with a four-under 68.

That leaves him at -10, level with Ross Fisher and Alexander Levy, and two off the leader Thomas Pieters going into Saturday's third round of the 13th staging of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, presented by EGA.

Spaniard Jorge Campillo will go out in the final group with Pieters after his 64 left him on -11.

Rory McIlroy eagled the 18th to card a 66 and he is -9 going into the weekend's action.

World No 1 Dustin Johnson is four shots off Pieters on -8 after he hit a 64 to bounce back well from his first round 72.

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4.55pm While it has been quiet at the top of the leaderboard with Thomas Pieters set to go into Saturday's third round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with an one-shot lead, there has been plenty of drama at the other end of the field.

Justin Rose and Matt Kuchar displayed the nerves of steel that made them Olympic medalists by holing birdies on the 18th to sneak into the weekend.

With the projected cut set at 1-under par, both Rose and Kuchar made their way to the last knowing birdie or better would be their only hope of continuing their campaigns.

Kuchar went up first, rolling in a putt from 15 feet to trigger loud cheers from the terraces.

After Henrik Stenson, already safe for the weekend, claimed his birdie to reach the halfway stage at 6-under, Rose had a short putt to ensure his safety. The Olympic gold medalist duly slotted home to keep his hopes in Abu Dhabi alive.

However, 2013 champion Jamie Donaldson, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood are among those who are set to be going home early with just a few groups still out on the course.

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4.35pm It was Iain Dowie in football who coined the phrase bouncebackability and Tommy Fleetwood has just demonstrated it.

The defending champion at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship dropped his first shot of the tournament at the 16th hole of his second round but he immediately hit back with a birdie at the 17th to get back to -9.

He is three behind clubhouse leader Thomas Pieters with one hole to go.

World No 1 Dustin Johnson has moved himself into contention as a seventh birdie of the day leaves him on -7, level with playing partner Rory McIlroy with one hole to play.

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4.20pm Paul Casey has had a cracking day at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship as the Englishman went around in 65 to be -9 for the tournament, three off leader Thomas Pieters.

Casey is in strong contention for a third Abu Dhabi title to follow up his 2007 and 2009 wins and he is keen on completing the achievement, not just for the victory, but also so he can match Martin Kaymer's tally of three.

The three have a friendly rivalry, as Paul Radley reports here.

Paul Casey went around in 65 in the second round at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.  Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images
Paul Casey went around in 65 in the second round at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images

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4.10pm Jorge Campillo has said how much he likes playing in the UAE after second round 64 saw the Spaniard surge up the leaderboard.

Campillo shot a flawless round with eight birdies to move to 11-under par, one shot behind clubhouse leader Thomas Pieters.

"I always like to come here to the Emirates and play golf," he said. "I have a top-10 here I think, and I normally play good around here. So I do like the course. I think it's a fair course."

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3.15pm The big names are on the move. Both Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy birdied the 12th holes and they are now respectively -9 and -7 under at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Both have parred the 13th and now have five holes each remaining to try and make more in-roads into clubhouse leader Thomas Pieters's score of -12.

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3.15pm Birdies at the ninth and the 11th holes have kicked Rory McIlroy up to -6 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

The Northern Irishman is yet to drop a shot this week but he still has a lot to do to catch clubhouse leader Thomas Pieters, who is on -12.

Playing partners Tommy Fleetwood (-8) and Dustin Johnson (-5) are both moving along nicely as well, with the latter five under for the day.

Henrik Stenson has played every Abu Dhabi tournament and is yet to win the event. He will have to have a very strong weekend to change that fact as he is two under today and -4 overall.

The Swede's playing partner Justin Rose remains in danger of missing the cut. He is level for the tournament with six holes to go of his second round, with the projected cut being at -1.

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2.25pm A second birdie has come for Tommy Fleetwood on the eighth hole. The defending Abu Dhabi HSBC champion is up to -8 and a tie for eighth place at present.

The Englishman is four behind clubhouse leader Thomas Pieters.

Two birdies in the final two holes saw Jorge Campillo go to -11 and also finished for the day.

Dustin Johnson has gone on one of his trademark charges on the front nine of his second round. The American world No 1 reaches the turn at four-under par for the day and the tournament after picking up birdies on the first, third, sixth and eighth.

Still some way behind Pieters but in this sort of form, write Johnson off at your peril.

One player not firing on all cylinders in Justin Rose. He is one over for the day at the turn and he is level par for the tournament.

With the projected cut being at -1 at present the Englishman is in danger of not being here for the final two rounds.

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1.25pm Clubhouse leader Thomas Pieters has been reflecting on his strong performance as his second-round 65 has left him out in front by two shots at present at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

The Belgian told Sky Sports of his seven-under round: "The conditions are perfect, no wind. It's nice out there so you need to take advantage of the conditions.

"We have a decent game plan. I've done well here in the past [fourth in 2015 and second in 2016] and it suits me. We hit driver wherever we can and the rest of it is good ball-striking and going at a couple flags with wedges when you have them."

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1.15pm Round of the day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club goes to Branden Grace so far and it really was a round of two halves from the South African.

Starting the day on level par after a 72 on the first day of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, presented by EGA, Grace's first nine holes produced two birdies. But he subsequently found his form and five birdies in a row from the 11th to 15th holes transformed his scorecard and he added another on the 17th hole of his round to finish with a 64.

He is -8, four shots off clubhouse Thomas Pieters, who hit a 65 to move to -12.

Tommy Fleetwood, the defending champion, was the overnight joint leader on -6, and he has birdied the second to move to -7.

World No 1 Dustin Johnson has birdied the first and third to move to -2, while Rory McIlroy has just picked up his first shot of the day at the fourth hole to move to -4.

One thing to note is that the projected cut is currently at -1.

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12.45pm The biggest crowds of the day gathered on the first tee to see the start of the second rounds of world No 1 Dustin Johnson, four-time major winner Rory McIlroy and defending champion Tommy Fleetwood.

Johnson started in ideal fashion by claiming a birdie to move to one-under. Fleetwood, the joint-overnight leader, took par to stay at six-under par. McIlroy also took a par to stay at 3-under.

All three players will need to produce big rounds today to close in on leader Thomas Pieters, who sits in the clubhouse at 12-under.

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12.20pm A strong finish from Thomas Pieters, with birdies at the final two holes of his second round at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, presented by EGA, has set a tough clubhouse score for his rivals to beat.

He went round in 65 to be -12 after two rounds. The Belgian is two shots clear of Ross Fisher. The Englishman is also done for the day after hitting a 67.

Paul Casey has also hit a 65 to be -9 after his second round. Also on -9, with holes still to play on Friday are Sam Brazel, Bernd Wiesberger and Alexander Levy.

Henrik Stenson has started his second round well with a birdie at the first to go to -3.

The trio of Tommy Fleetwood, Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy have just began their round, and The National's Jon Turner saw them tee off and caught their opening shots of the round on instagram.

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11.45am Thomas Pieters has company at the top of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship leaderboard as Bernd Wiesberger has joined him on -10 thanks to a run of three birdies in a row at the 11th, 12th and 13th holes of his round.

Round of the day though so far is still Paul Casey's. The 2007 and 2009 Abu Dhabi champion is seven under for the day with three holes to play.

Branden Grace is another man on the move. The South African is six under for today, picking up four shots in the last hour, and he is now in the group on -6, which is at present joint 13th in the standings.

But ominously for the rest of the field, three-time Abu Dhabi champion Martin Kaymer is -7 after a birdie at the 13th moved him to four under for the day.

Defending champion Tommy Fleetwood, who is -6, starts his second round at 12.05pm with Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson, while Justin Rose, Matt Kuchar and Henrik Stenson are due to start in 10 minutes at 11.55am.

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11.05am The early rounds on the second day of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship are coming to a close and it has really been a morning of low scoring.

Thomas Pieters is five under for the day and continues to lead the tournament on -10, one shot ahead of Ross Fisher, with Paul Casey, Sam Brezel and Bernd Wiesberger all on -8.

Casey is six under for the day, an eagle at the 18th the high point of his day so far, and with six holes to go the Englishman will look to close in even further on Pieters.

Further back Europe's Ryder Cup captain for this year's event, Thomas Bjorn, is also showing some great form as he is three under for the day and is on -4 with six holes to go of his round.

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10.35am The low scoring continues on the second day of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, presented by EGA, as as birdies at the 10th and 11th from Belgian Thomas Pieters moves him two shots clear of the field on -10.

He is -5 for the day and with seven holes to play could increase his advantage even further before he is done for the day.

Ross Fisher and Sam Brazel are both on -8, while 2007 and 2009 Abu Dhabi champion Paul Casey is among the group on -7 as he hit three birdies and an eagle in his first nine holes.

Just a reminder that defending champion Tommy Fleetwood, who was overnight leader with Hideto Tanihara, begins his round at 12.05pm.

Tanihara has struggled to match his form of yesterday and two bogies have dropped him back to a share of 20th spot on +4.

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10am It is still Thomas Pieters out in front at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on -8, with the Belgian having played nine holes of his second round.

Paul Casey, the 2007 and 2009 Abu Dhabi champion, is -7 at the halfway point of his round, and he is level with English compatriot Ross Fisher.

Hideto Tanihara, the overnight joint leader with Tommy Fleetwood, has had a solid, if unspectacular, start with five pars from his first five holes leaving him still on -6.

Fleetwood remember does not tee off until 12.05pm.

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9.30am The early start to the morning has clearly agreed with Thomas Pieters as he has just birdied his seventh hole of his second round to go to -8 and go one shot clear again at the top of the leaderboard.

Sam Brazel and Bernd Wiesberger had both pulled level with him on -7 but the Belgian is now out in front again on his own.

Further back and Lee Westwood is making up for a disappointing Thursday. The Englishman shot a 74 on the first day, but he is -3 after seven holes today and is now back to -1.

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8.50am Good morning! Welcome to coverage of the second round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, presented by EGA.

Play has been underway at Abu Dhabi Golf Club for around 90 minutes and We already have some early movement at the top of the leaderboard. Belgium's Thomas Pieters has gone 2-under par in his first four holes to move to 7-under and has taken the tournament lead.

Pieters, a star of Europe's most recent Ryder Cup outing, claimed a pair of 3s on the 11th and 13th par-fours.

Overnight leaders Fleetwood and Tanihara have now been joined by Sam Brazel and Ross Fisher on six-under, with both players shooting 1-under par from their rounds so far.

Tanihara has begun his second round and got a par at the first hole to stay at -6.

Fleetwood does not tee off until 12.05pm when he goes out alongside Rory McIlroy (-3) and Dustin Johnson (Even).

All the tee times for the second round are here.

There was lots of action on Thursday's opening day, but arguably the person who stole the show was 13-year-old Oscar Murphy. If you missed his contribution to the opening round, catch up with it here.

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