Doha – Spain's Rafa Cabrera-Bello continued his excellent desert form to take a handy two-shot cushion after the second round of the Qatar Masters on Thursday.
The 29-year-old, who finished tied fourth at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship and had won the 2012 Dubai Desert Classic, carded a fluent 65 for a 13-under 131 total at the Doha Golf Club.
In the process he overtook overnight leader George Coetzee who recorded a second round 69 for an 11-under 133 to occupy sole second spot, while Englishmen Steve Webster and Mathew Baldwin were a further shot behind along with rising Swedish star Johan Carlsson on 134.
Coetzee had retained his one-shot advantage after finishing his round in the morning, but Cabrera-Bello stormed up the leaderboard in the afternoon with a brilliant show over the back nine during which he picked up five strokes.
The Spaniard finished his round in style by draining a putt from 10 feet on the 18th hole, and but for a par on the 17th hole could have had a string of five successive birdies beginning on the 14th.
Coetzee, the runner-up in Qatar last year, was not complaining despite dropping four shots, which included a double-bogey six on the 474-yard 11th hole, his second.
“Just told myself, make some putts, and luckily I did. Yeah, I felt quite good. There were some bogeys out there but definitely some birdies, too, said Coetzee.
“I enjoy this place, so obviously I'll be trying to do one better than last year, and just keep doing what I'm doing and make some putts.”
Webster's record albatross on Wednesday however continued to be the talking point in Doha with many wondering if he could repeat the feat on the same hole in the second round.
The Englishman, too, admitted that the thought of an encore had been playing on his mind although he eventually had to settle for a birdie.
“I had perfect yardage again but I pulled it a bit and ended up 40 feet away. It was on my mind,” Webster said after his round which was blighted by three bogeys.
“Yeah, I was disappointed how I played today. Warmed up on the range this morning at half five and it was quite early and never really quite got going on the course, so to shoot 69, I've scrambled a little bit which is great.”
Rookie Carlsson, however, was pretty happy with his 65, the best round of the day, along with Cabrera-Bello.
“Well, of course I'm happy, I got the putter going, same as last week, the last round where I shot 7?under as well,” said Carlsson.
“Always helps when you get the putter going. When you get the putter going, everything seems so much easier.”
American John Daly, meanwhile, rolled back the years with a calm 69 to go with his first round 67 and was tied for 10th in a bunch of six players with 136.
Without a title for the past 10 years, the colourful American eschewed his trademark flamboyant and was pretty pleased with his bogey-free round.
“This isn't an easy golf course. It's in great shape but it's a tough golf course. The fairways are not the easiest to hit, and you know, you miss it a little too far right and left, no telling what it can happen,” said the two-time major winner.
“But I kept it close to the fairway a lot today and hit a lot of fairways, so my irons were really good today.”
He added that he is now much stronger mentally and that his passion for the game has also grown.
“Probably I think as we get older, especially more for myself, it's more passion about it, and whether I win or not, just playing good makes me feel really well and it would be great to be in contention. But I like the way I'm playing. I like my patience and I like my mentality right now.” – Sapa-AFP