Day Two in Abu Dhabi: The Plot Thickens
By Conor Nagle under European PGA Tour

Thørbjorn Olesen, obviously.

As expected, the 36-hole leader of the Abu Dhabi Championship is 22 years of age and the possessor of a world-beating long game. He doesn’t, however, go by the name of Rory McIlroy.

Thørbjorn Olesen may not yet have reached the dizzying professional heights of his Northern Irish doppelganger, but his already enviable palmarès suggests a similar level of acclaim may not be long in arriving.

After carding a promising opening round of 70 in the toughest of yesterday’s conditions, the Dane required a mere 67 shots to complete his round this morning. Though sullied somewhat by a bogey at the last, it included a salvo of three birdies in the opening four holes and four in the space of five around the turn.

At seven-under-par for the tournament, he enjoys a one-shot advantage over Northern Ireland’s Gareth Maybin, who has yet to record a bogey (testament to the reliability of his ball-striking), and the prodigiously talented Matteo Manassero.

The Italian’s flawless second round of 65 suggests his reputation as a short-course specialist, though little over a year old, may already lag some way behind the maturation of his golf game.

Neglectful of the trio at the head of the field, the attention of the viewing public remains firmly affixed on the major-winning pair currently ensconced within a group of seven players tied for fourth place.

Rory McIlroy (72) and Tiger Woods (69) were a study in contrast on Friday afternoon. While the latter crafted another display of crisp ball-striking and sensible course management, the overnight co-leader embarked on a relentless assault of the golf course that paid little heed to the distinction between bravery and foolhardiness.

The US Open champion’s reward was a round that included a total of six dropped shots – two of which came on the par-four ninth when, preparing to play from the apron of the green, he crouched to brush a clump of sand from his line – and the same number of birdies. Set against the statuesque control of his playing partner, it was a performance of nearly comical inconsistency.

The pair share an aggregate total of 139 with Robert Karlsson (72), Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (71), Paul Lawrie (69), Robert Rock (70) and Richard Finch (71), and enjoy a one-shot advantage over a group that includes Padraig Harrington (69), Sergio Garcia (69) and Masters champion Charl Schwartzel (70).

Conor Nagle