A guilty conscience paid dividends for Martin Kaymer as the three-time winner surged into the halfway lead in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Former world No 1 Kaymer carded a second consecutive 66 to reach 12 under par, a shot ahead of Ryder Cup team-mate Rafa Cabrera Bello.
The two-time major winner lifted the trophy in Abu Dhabi in 2008, 2010 and 2011, but amazingly blew a ten-shot lead in the final round in 2015 and remains without a victory since the 2014 US Open.
That meant Kaymer reverted to his winter practise regime in America for the first time in three years, a decision which helped produce an eagle on the par-five eighth and six birdies in a back nine of 31.
“I’m not quite 100 per cent happy yet with the way I played, but we always have those little things if you’re a perfectionist,” said Kaymer. “But overall it paid off fairly well so far. I felt like I played a little better than yesterday, because it was a bit more difficult with the wind. I struck the ball with a little better quality but made a few long putts, the same as yesterday.
“I don’t try to push at all, I just try to enjoy playing my favourite golf course. Once in a while a long putt drops in and you get some momentum and then maybe you can make another three or four birdies coming in like it happened today. Pushing, I have bad experience with pushing.”
Cabrera Bello had held the lead for much of the day after adding a 66 to his opening 67, the 32-year-old Spaniard responding to his only bogey of the day on the sixth – his 15th hole – with birdies on the seventh, eighth and ninth.
Despite failing to convert numerous winning positions since the last of his two European Tour victories in Dubai in 2012, Cabrera Bello said: “I’m in no hurry, I know it will come, I just obviously wish it to come sooner than later.
“Sometimes a good first round puts a little bit of pressure on but I just went out there and did my tasks, try to focus on one shot at a time and it worked well today.”
Ireland’s Paul Dunne, England’s Tommy Fleetwood and Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat were two shots off the pace on ten under, with overnight leader Henrik Stenson among those a shot further back after a 71.
Scotland’s Marc Warren ended the day six strokes off the lead after carding a level par 72 while David Drysdale was a further shot back after a 69. Fellow Scots Richie Ramsay (72) and Scott Jamieson (70) safely made the cut after reaching halfway at three under par but Stephen Gallacher, Paul Lawrie and Duncan Stewart all made an early exit.