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Thursday, 23 January 2014
Rafa Cabrera-Bello   (Getty Images)
Rafa Cabrera-Bello (Getty Images)
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 reach 13 under par.

The 29 year old Spaniard, who was fourth behind compatriot Pablo Larrazábal in Abu Dhabi last week having led after the first two rounds, carded one bogey and eight birdies, five of the gains coming in the last seven holes as he covered the back nine in 31.

That gave the former junior Ryder Cup player a two shot lead over South African George Coetzee, who had looked like holding onto his overnight advantage after shooting a 69 earlier in the day to reach 11 under.

Former Omega Dubai Desert Classic winner Cabrera-Bello said: “I don't think 13 is an unlucky number for around this course. 

“I'm really happy, really pleased, and everything's going good - I'm enjoying myself. 

“I like playing in short sleeves a lot, I like a little bit of breeze, I like seeing palm trees, I like seeing sun around the courses. It does remind me a lot from the Canaries, and I start playing at the end of the year here, and I don't feel that I've left home, so that's why I enjoy it so much.”

Cabrera-Bello holed a ten foot putt on the final green for a flawless inward 31, but will be keen to avoid a repeat of last week’s third round 73 from a similar position.

“I do my normal routine, and tomorrow is just a new day,” he added. “We start from scratch, play one shot at a time and just go out there and keep enjoying myself. 

“I've been doing it for this week and last week a lot, so just enjoy the opportunity of being up there, being in contention, that every shot mattered and just savour that and try to perform as good as I know I can.”

English duo Steve Webster and Matthew Baldwin shared third place on ten under after rounds of 69 and 66 respectively, putting them alongside Sweden's Johan Carlsson, The Challenge Tour graduate firing eight birdies and an eagle in his impressive 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 tenth - his first hole - from 254 yards on Wednesday, and was entertaining thoughts of an amazing repeat when he reached the hole again this morning.

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

"I was a bit disappointed how I played today, I warmed up great on the range at 5:30am but I never quite got going on the course. To shoot 69 I have scrambled a little bit."

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

"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."

Coetzee, who finished second in Qatar last year when Chris Wood eagled the 72nd hole, 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."

European Number One Henrik Stenson took 14 holes to record his first birdie as he recorded 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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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1GARCIA, SergioESP18-16
2ILONEN, MikkoFIN18-16
T3OLESEN, ThorbjørnDEN18-15
T3CABRERA-BELLO, RafaESP18-15
T5CAÑIZARES, AlejandroESP18-14
T5COETZEE, GeorgeRSA18-14

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