Grant Forrest produces another second-round surge in Abu Dhabi

Grant Forrest is developing a nice habit of producing some Friday fireworks in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, one of the European Tour's biggest events.
Grant Forrest checks his yardage book during the second round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC ChampionshipGrant Forrest checks his yardage book during the second round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
Grant Forrest checks his yardage book during the second round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

On his debut in the desert tournament 12 months ago, the Lothians star shot a brilliant seven-under-par 65 at Abu Dhabi Golf Club to rocket up the leaderboard.

And it was another second-round surge for him this time around in the $7 million Rolex Series event on the back of an equally-pleasing 68.

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"I think I like Fridays at this event," said the 26-year-old, smiling, after an effort that saw him comfortably make the cut here again on two-under-par.

"I played nicely today. Yesterday was one of those rounds where I drove the ball brilliantly but got absolutely nothing out of it.

"I took the positives from that coming into today and managed to get a couple of putts to go in and I am safely into the weekend, which I am happy about."

Forrest, who started the 2020 season by tying for fourth in Mauritius last month, carded five birdies, one of which could easily have been an eagle as a 20-foot putt for a 3 at the 18th caught the edge of the hole but spun away.

"That was one of the smellier ones I've had out here," declared the former Scottish Amateur champion, who is now living in Haddington.

Forrest had two of his compatriots, David Law and Calum Hill, for company in the opening two rounds, with the pair having mixed fortunes.

Helped by a burst of five birdies at the start of the back nine, 2019 ISPS Handa Vic Open winner Law also shot a 68 to sit on six-under, just four shots off the lead, held by Italian Francesco Laporta.

But it was an early exit for Hill, a Challenge Tour graduate after winning twice on the second-tier circuit last season, following rounds of 71 and 73.

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"It was nice and certainly a bit different for me out here," said Forrest of the all-Scottish group. "I was saying to the guys that I didn't get paired with a single Scottish guy in the opening two rounds the whole of last season.

"I played with Dave in the third round in Morocco and it was nice over the last couple of days. It helps keep you a bit more relaxed, I think."

Commenting on how the other two had played, he added: "Dave was really solid out there. He just kept hitting good golf shots.

"You don't have to chase pins all the time. If you get your distance, the greens are lovely and you can give yourself 20-foot chances a lot of the time.

"Calum, meanwhile, is going to be absolutely fine out here. He struggled a bit with his long game over the past couple of days.

"But, from what I've seen in the past, he's a top player and has no need to worry about missing a cut."

Edinburgh-based Richie Ramsay also made it safely through to the weekend after a 69 that contained four birdies in six holes around the turn.

“It was a good day’s work," reported the three-time tour winner, who is starting his 12th consecutive campaign on the circuit.

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"I didn’t think I was striking the ball all that well, but I managed my game well and I drove it very well, which is a big thing around here.

“It is my first event of the new season and this is a golf course that tests every part of your game. You end up hitting everything in the bag - rescue clubs, 4-irons, wedges, the lot."

David Drysdale and Scott Jamieson progressed on three-under and one-under respectively, but Hill was joined in making an early exit by Stephen Gallacher (two-over) and Paul Lawrie (eight-over).