STIRLING’S Craig Lee secured the clubhouse lead after a morning of low scoring in the second round of the £1.6 million HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship.
Carrying on from where he’d left off when picking up four birdies in his last four holes yesterday, the 36-year-old signed for a five-under 67.
It moved him to nine-under for the tournament, one in front of playing partner Danny Willett after the Englishman catapulted himself up the leaderboard with a sizzling 63.
“I think Santa has brought me a new putting stroke for Christmas,” declared Lee after another good day on the lightning-fast greens at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
“I don’t know what’s happening out there but I’m holing a lot of putts and that’s definitely the difference.”
Lee, a successful Tartan Tour player before using the Challenge Tour as a stepping stone on to the European Tour, came close to his maiden victory last season.
Helped by a third-round 61 at Crans-sur-Sierre, he got into a play-off at the European Masters in Switzerland but was pipped by the more experienced Thomas Bjorn.
The Dane’s name is also on the leaderboard here, having moved to seven-under after a 67, and Lee is hoping he might get a chance of revenge.
“That would be nice,” he added after a seven-birdie round. “I would like to see the two of us side-by-side in a play-off again.
“He won fair and square the last time but I would take that this weekend.”
Willett bagged an eagle and eight birdies in his eye-catching effort, while compatriot Tommy Fleetwood also made a positive thrust.
Playing with Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley, the Johnnie Walker Championship title-holder shot a 65 to move to six-under - three off the lead.
On a day when pin positions appeared to be more favourable, Colin Montgomerie bagged three 2s in a 68 for four-under.
But Paul Lawrie comfortably missed the cut despite finishing with two birdies as he trimmed shots off his opening effort with a 73.