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Rafael Cabrera-Bello shines to take second-round lead in Qatar Masters

Updated: Thursday, 23 Jan 2014 21:15 | Comments

Rafael Cabrera-Bello said he was enjoying himself
Rafael Cabrera-Bello said he was enjoying himself

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Rafael Cabrera-Bello made the most of an opportunity to impress Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley as he stormed into the lead in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters on Thursday.

Cabrera-Bello outscored playing partner McGinley by 12 shots over the first two rounds in Doha, adding a sparkling 65 to his opening 66 to finish 13 under par.

McGinley carded 70, to leave him on one under par overall following Wednesday’s 73.

Michael Hoey and Simon Thornton were best placed of the Irish on six under after second rounds of  70 and 68 respectively.

Shane Lowry’s second-round 68 wasn’t enough for him to stay for rounds three and four; the Offaly man finished level par and just outside the cut. Damien McGrane’s 74 left him on two over par overall. 

Gareth Maybin shot 76 to end up on six over par overall, and Peter Lawrie ended 12 over par, a second-round 76 following Wednesday’s 80.

"I start the year here and it doesn't feel like I have left home" - Rafael Cabrera-Bello

29-year-old Spaniard Cabrera-Bello, who was fourth behind compatriot Pablo Larrazabal in Abu Dhabi last week, carded one bogey and eight birdies, five of the birdies coming in the last seven holes as he covered the back nine in 31.

Having won the Dubai Desert Classic in 2012, Cabrera-Bello said he felt quite at home on the European Tour's Middle East Swing.

"I'm very happy, everything is going good and I am enjoying myself a lot," he said. "It definitely feels like home. I like playing in short-sleeves, I like seeing palm trees and sand around the course. It reminds me a lot of the Canaries.

"I start the year here and it doesn't feel like I have left home. Tomorrow is another day and we start from scratch, playing one shot at a time and just going out there and keep enjoying myself.

"I've been doing it this week and last week, enjoying being up there and in contention where every shot matters and I will try to perform as good as I know I can."

Coetzee, who finished second in Qatar last year when Chris Wood eagled the 72nd hole to win by a single shot, said: "I enjoy this place and will be trying to do one better than last year.

"I just had a bit of a wobble on the 11th, my second hole, but otherwise I played pretty nicely. There are some bogeys out there but there's definitely some birdies to recover from."

English duo Steve Webster and Matthew Baldwin shared third place on 10 under after rounds of 69 and 66, respectively, alongside Sweden's Johan Carlsson, the Challenge Tour graduate firing eight birdies and an eagle in his 65.

Webster could not repeat the fireworks of his opening 65, when he recorded what is believed to be the first ever albatross on the opening hole of a tournament.

But the two-time European Tour winner still managed to chip in for a birdie on his first hole on Thursday and the 39-year-old added five more and three bogeys.

"It was a little bit scrappy today," Webster said. "I missed the green with a lob wedge on the first and chipped in for a birdie which was nice. I played good but didn't give myself enough chances so 69, I'm happy with that."

Webster had holed his second shot to the par-five 10th - his first hole - from 254 yards on Wednesday, and was entertaining thoughts of an amazing repeat when he reached the hole again on Thursday morning.

"I had the perfect yardage for my five wood again but just pulled it a bit and hit it to 40ft," Webster added. "It was in my mind again and I thought back to back would be nice but it didn't happen."

Webster revealed he had worked hard on his putting earlier in the week with coach Damian Taylor, who also works with Larrazabal.

"It would be nice to do the double," Webster added. "We did a lot of work Monday and Tuesday on my putting, probably six hours, and changed the shaft in my putter for a little bit more feel and it's working well this week.

"If you can make a few putts it makes all the difference out here."

European number one Henrik Stenson took 14 holes to record his first birdie as he struggled to a 71 to lie five under, while playing partners Luke Donald and Jason Dufner finished three under in contrasting fashion.

Former world number one Donald, who now shares a coach with Dufner, was in danger of missing the cut until coming home in 32 for a 69, while US PGA champion Dufner bogeyed two of the last four holes to return a 71.

The cut fell at one under par and defending champion Wood scraped through on the mark thanks to a birdie on the 18th.

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