European Tour

Willett charges, Cabrera-Bello leads Hong Kong Open

2016-12-09 12:45
Rafa Cabrera-Bello (AP)

Hong Kong - Masters champion Danny Willett rediscovered his magic touch as he shot four-under-par 66 to lie hot on the trail of Rafa Cabrera Bello at the Hong Kong Open on Friday.

As injury-hampered defending champion Justin Rose and Ian Poulter - left fuming after a late quadruple bogey - flirted with the cut, Willett finally located the form that has eluded him for months.

The 29-year-Englishman has slumped since winning his first major title in April, dropping out of the world's top 10, and he was delighted to lie joint third after round two.

"It's nice to be in this position after the last few months," said Willett, who skipped the BMW Masters and last month's World Cup to rest a bad back.

"I came out here probably as fresh as I've been for a month and a half," he said. "It's probably showed mentally more than anything." 

However, Willett remains five adrift of Ryder Cup team-mate Cabrera Bello, who shot a sparkling 65 at par-70 Fanling to lie 11-under and extend his lead to three strokes.

While Willett hasn't tasted victory since the Masters in April, Cabrera Bello's winless streak stretches all the way back to the Dubai Desert Masters in 2012.

"I know I will win again. I've won before," said the Spaniard, 32.

"I don't think I'm doing anything wrong not to get the win, so it will happen. Hopefully it will happen in two days' time." 

It wasn't such a good day for Poulter, who snarled at a cameraman during his mini-collapse as he quadruple-bogeyed 15 and bogeyed 18 to card 72 and survive the cut by a stroke.

Rose, the biggest draw at the $2 million tournament and struggling with a bad back, was also worried about missing the cut until he rolled in birdies on holes three, seven and eight to score one-under 69. 

The Olympic champion said he was moving more freely on day two but after a number of missed putts, the tournament is slipping out of reach.

"I set myself a mini-goal of finishing the day three under which I felt would keep me in touch," he said.

"It's going to require a couple of low ones now," he said.

Leading scores after the second round of the Hong Kong Open on Thursday at the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling (par 70):

129 - Rafa Cabrera Bello (ESP) 64-65

132 - Sam Brazel (AUS) 66-66

134 - Danny Willett (ENG) 68-66, Paul Peterson (USA) 66-68, Tommy Fleetwood (ENG) 66-68, Justin Walters (RSA) 67-67

135 - Thongchai Jaidee (THA) 67-68, Hung Chien-yao (TPE) 69-66, Danny Chia (MAS) 69-66, Steve Lewton (ENG) 68-67

136 - Carlos Pigem (ESP) 68-68, Peter Uihlein (USA) 66-70, Daniel Im (USA) 69-67, Benjamin Hebert (FRA) 66-70, Jason Scrivener (AUS) 67-69, Andrew Dodt (AUS) 69-67, David Lipsky (USA) 66-70

Selected:

137 - Miguel Angel Jimenez (ESP) 69-68

139 - Justin Rose (ENG) 70-69

140 - Ian Poulter (ENG) 68-72, Patrick Reed (USA) 70-70

Read more on:    european tour  |  hong kong open  |  golf
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