Lee pleased with putting display

1/17/2014 10:38:53 AM
Craig Lee  (Getty Images)
Craig Lee (Getty Images)

Craig Lee established a one shot clubhouse lead over England’s Danny Willett as the Scot seeks his maiden European Tour title at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

Lee had set the clubhouse target on nine under par after adding a 67 to his opening 68, the 36 year old looking for his first win after losing out to Thomas Björn in a play-off for the Omega European Masters last September.

"I think Santa has brought me a good putting stroke for Christmas," Lee said. "I don't know what's happening out there but I'm holing a lot of putts and that's definitely the difference."

Björn was just two shots behind Lee on seven under after shooting his own 67, and Lee added: "I would like to take the two of us side-by-side in a play-off again."

The round of the day so far had come from Willett, who carded seven birdies and an eagle to finish eight under par and continue a brilliant fightback.

Willett's compatriot Tommy Fleetwood made the most of his chance to impress Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, but may not get the full benefit.

Fleetwood, who led going into the final round of the Volvo Champions in Durban on Sunday before finishing joint third, carded a superb second round of 65 to finish six under par.

However, as well as McGinley, Fleetwood was playing with fellow Nike professional Thorbjørn Olesen and the pair turned up in almost identical clothes, much to the confusion of McGinley.

"He kept saying good shot but he never knew which one it was," joked Fleetwood, who won the Johnnie Walker Championship at Ryder Cup venue Gleneagles last year, four days before the qualifying race started.

"He kept throwing a name out there and we're like 'no, no, Paul, it was the other one.' We dressed the same yesterday and today, we couldn't believe it. Nike need a few more clothes maybe. But it was nice to have a bit of fun out there and get the Captain a bit confused."

Fleetwood carded five birdies and a somewhat fortuitous eagle, the 22 year old's approach to the par five 18th hitting the hospitality marquee to the left of the green and bouncing down onto the putting surface.

"I think it hit the picture of Phil Mickelson on the board and bounced down, so thanks for that Phil," added Fleetwood, who holed the resulting putt from 30 feet.

Willett was five over par after ten holes of the first round, but played the remaining eight in four under and is a total of 13 under for his last 26 holes.

"To be honest I've not done a massive amount different," Willett said. "Yesterday was a bit on and off, I played pretty good but you miss a fairway by two or three yards and you get a bad lie and you've got no way to get to some of these greens.

"Today I played nice, hit it a little closer and hit a few more fairways and rolled a few putts in. I holed a wedge from 50 yards on eight (for eagle) which helps and the last 20-odd holes have been pretty good."