Rolex Series

Cabrera Bello makes early morning charge in Abu Dhabi

Tyrrell Hatton saw his commanding overnight lead trimmed to one shot by Rafa Cabrera Bello as the second round of the 2021 season opening Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship was completed on Saturday morning.

Rafa Cabrera Bello

The Rolex Series had brought a strong field to Abu Dhabi Golf Club and after two days, World Number Nine Hatton had opened up a five shot lead over a group of players including four time Major Championship winner Rory McIlroy.

But after a fog delay on the opening morning in the UAE, many of the field had holes to complete in round two, including Hatton, McIlroy, Spanish pair Cabrera Bello and Nacho Elvira, and Australian Lucas Herbert.

The Englishman dropped a shot on the 17th in his remaining five holes to slip to 11 under and Cabrera Bello pounced, making gains on the 11th, 14th, 15th and 17th to sign for a second consecutive 67 and sit just one back.

Herbert also had a productive morning, picking up two shots in his final eight holes to move to eight under, while Elvira did the same after having ten holes to make up in the morning.

Northern Ireland's McIlroy made a single birdie on the 17th in his remaining four holes to complete the trio in a tie for third, three shots off the lead.

Scot Stephen Gallacher, Thailand's Jazz Janewattananond, Frenchman Romain Langasque, Australian Jason Scrivener and Paraguay's Fabrizio Zanotti were at seven under.

Hatton already has three Rolex Series wins to date at the 2017 Italian Open, 2019 Turkish Airlines Open and 2020 BMW PGA Championship on home soil, but Cabrera Bello has also tasted victory in the European Tour's prestige events, winning the 2017 Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.

McIlroy may have three Race to Dubai titles and three World Golf Championships to go with those four Majors but he has yet to claim a Rolex Series win, and the trio of Ryder Cup stars make up a mouthwatering final three ball in the third round.

"It was nice to make one birdie on the way in," said McIlroy after completing his level par 72.

"I think I limited the damage well for the most part. I drove it a bit better this morning but yesterday wasn't great and when you don't drive it great here, especially where they have some of the pins tucked, it was just hard to get close.

"A disappointing round on this golf course should be something around 70, 71, 72 so I did okay.

"The first tournament back out of the year there is always going to be a few little doubts that creep in here or there but for the most part it's been good.

"I'm still sort of right in it and there's a lot of golf left to play."

Herbert had moved into solo third as he picked up shots on the 12th, 16th and 17th but he bogeyed the last to fall into the group with McIlroy and Elvira.

Elvira was set to play 28 holes on Saturday after going out in the final group in round two, and he was in the penultimate group in round three after making birdies on the 14th and 16th.

Janewattananond and Scrivener were among those to finish their rounds on Friday, while Langasque made two pars after the resumption.

Gallacher had seven holes remaining and picked up shots on the fourth, seventh and eighth, with Zanotti making a gain on the ninth in his final five holes.

Read next