Olesen leads but Woods, McIlory lurking

Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen leads the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship at the completion of 36 holes but he may well be excused for having a sore neck tomorrow night as he continually looks over his shoulder to watch the progress of his many close chasers, several of them amongst the game's very best.

Olesen leads by one over Northern Ireland's Gareth Maybin and Italy's Matteo Mannasero but it is the group of players one shot further back that may cause Olesen his biggest concern over the remaining 36 holes.

That group includes amongst others Rory McIlory, Tiger Woods and Robert Karlsson and with Charl Schwartzel and Sergio Garcia amongst those another shot further back then the weekend promises something special in an event that has already attracted a great deal of attention.

"There are so many good guys in this event, it's tough," said Olesen referring to the congested and quality of the leaderboard. "If Tiger plays well, he's unbeatable I think. But I just try to play my own game and try to be up there on Sunday and play well."

Olesen finished the season off his rookie season well in 2011 although it was a bit of a roller coaster. After what had been a promising first half of his rookie season on 2011 European Tour season during which he had been runner-up at the Alfred Dunhill in South Africa and the French and Italian Opens, Olesen missed ten of his next 15 cuts before playing well in Dubai and Thailand.

The 22 year old finished third on the 2010 Challenge Tour to get his chance at the higher level and has grasped it with both hands.

Maybin has yet to win on the European Tour but has enjoyed success on the Challenge Tour and of course Manassero is a two time winner in Europe at the age of just 18. The Italian's round of 65 was the best of the day by two and he moved 53 positions to his share of second.

Manassero was understandably delighted. "It was a very, very good round, the best in maybe the last six months. I'm really, really proud of what I've done out there today. I'm really happy to be in contention again."

McIlory and Woods however lurk just off the pace and remain as perhaps the main dangers to the whole field. McIlory recorded a costly double bogey at the 9th hole today when he brushed aside some loose sand while just off the green's edge. The rules state that loose sand can only be removed if on the puttting surface and after a deliberation the two shot penalty was imposed.

I think it was a little bit of both of the first week back, said McIlroy when asked if he did not know the rule or was it lack of concentration. "As soon as I bent down to brush the sand and Luke said, "Don't think you can do that and I was like, oh, yeah, I can't. So just wasn't thinking. Turned a routine 4 into a 6 there and just sort of undone all the great work to get back to even par but felt like I played great golf coming in and made a few birdies and finished at even par which is a decent score considering everything that went on out there."

The leading Australian is Marcus Fraser in 23rd position at 2 under but just five off the pace.

Richard Green just crept inside the cut line at 2 over which was the cut off score.

The big disappointment from an Australian viewpoint was the missed cut by Jason Day. A triple bogey at his 9th hole in round two effectively cost any chance of Day being around for the weekend and he will now head to Qatar for next week's Qatar Masters.

Bruce Young
About The Author : Bruce Young

A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of and background in the game of golf comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.

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