Pieters edges into Abu Dhabi lead


Thomas Pieters snatched the midway lead at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship with a chip-in birdie on his final hole on Friday.

The Belgian heads into the weekend a shot clear of Jorge Campillo, but only thanks to a seventh birdie of the day that completed a blemish-free round as he finished the first 36 holes 12 under.

Campillo was one of three players - along with 11th-placed duo Branden Grace and Dustin Johnson - to sign for eight under on their second round, placing him one stroke ahead of Ross Fisher, Alexander Levy and overnight leader Tommy Fleetwood.

Hideto Tanihara, who was tied with birthday boy Fleetwood before a ball was struck on Friday, could only manage a par round to leave him tied for 21st.

"We have a decent game plan," said Pieters. "I've done well here in the past and it suits me. We hit driver wherever we can and the rest of it, it's good ball-striking and going at a couple flags with wedges when you have them that you need to do that.

"It was nice to hole one on the last after two terrible shots. But the rest of it was decent today. Ball-striking was good.

"I hit most of the middle of the greens. If I had a wedge, I went at the flag and I think I got up-and-down or made birdie with a wedge in my hand three or four times. It wasn't really that fancy today but a very good round."

Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, put in a strong performance to go six under for the day and take a share of sixth, eagling the 18th to boost his hopes.