Scott Jamieson maintained his one-shot lead at the halfway stage of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, where Ryder Cup stars Viktor Hovland, Ian Poulter, Shane Lowry and Thomas Pieters were among the many players in close pursuit after a blustery second round of the DP World Tour season's opening Rolex Series event.
The strong winds played havoc at Yas Links but Jamieson remained steady and composed as he battled to a two over par 74 to enter the weekend on a seven under leading total.
"It certainly wasn't easy. You know, we knew the forecast but when you're in your hotel room in the morning and the locker room, clear day, and before you play it's a little easier, but then you experience it and get out there" JAMIESON SAID.
"Obviously hitting shots is tricky with all the gusts but the hardest thing is putting. You get over the ball and you feel like you've got to be so tense to stop everything moving but that's the worst thing you can do when you're trying to putt. I holed a lot of really good putts from inside five feet today which kept my score respectable.
"Starting on the back nine, I knew the first four or five holes were going to be okay, downwind, and then I knew we were going to be in for a tough stretch from the 15th to the seventh, six being the last of the tough stretch.
"The first was the only hole that I really kind of chucked a couple away, but it's so easily done. So you've got to just get on with it."
On a day which yielded only nine sub-par rounds, Poulter's level 72 was all the more impressive and the Englishman sat in a share of second place on six under, alongside his recent Ryder Cup team-mate Hovland who signed for a 74.
"I've got to be honest, you look at the forecast and you felt the wind as strong as it was, you'd have thought the ball would be moving but didn't have any balls moving on the green" SAID POULTER.
"You had to back off because you were getting blown around but the ball wasn't really moving, so a surprise, and just had to hang in there. Birdied the first two holes and I've had two three-putt bogeys.
"Early in the season, you haven't hit those shots for quite some time and you're fighting the wind and trying to draw the golf ball. It's really tricky. So you know, a poor shot with the wrong wind gets really punished. I really only hit one or two of those but I didn't really get punished.
"I got to the last hole today and had a 25-foot birdie putt and when you've birdied 1 and 2, it takes you all the way around to 18, it's like, tease been a while before you have another good look at making birdie. But that was tough. That was tricky. That was dicey hitting some of those shots into the pins right on the edge of the water, in some respects you enjoy it and in some respects it's actually kind of miserable.
"To get this thrown at you early in the season is tricky. Shane would have said the same. It was kind of like, God, it's been a while since you've had to hit those type of shots. In a way, it's actually quite nice."
"It was a tough day today. Obviously would have liked to have made a couple more putts today and I think I could have shot under par today but it was a really difficult when it blowing as much as it is" SAID HOVLAND.

"I think with a lot of the pins when, for example, they put it back of the green, you have a lot of room short, for example, and obviously you want to try to get it close and give yourself a birdie look but there's so many nuances. Like you're in the rough but it might jump and I'm not sure how much it's going to jump. You're all playing defensive on every single shot. So it's just, yeah, a really grinding day.
"I'm in a good spot but there's still plenty of guys throughout and a lot of Brits and Scottish men that play in this weather all the time. But I'm liking my position right now and we'll see what happens."

James Morrison, meanwhile, was level par through 14 holes and on a six under total before play was suspended overnight due to darkness. Former Open Champion Lowry was joined by Pieters, Japan's Takumi Kanaya and Swede Alexander Björk on five under par, two shots off the lead.

Defending Champion Tyrrell Hatton's five over 77 left him six shots back on a one under total, while four-time Major champion Rory McIlroy had to hole a nerve-jangling birdie putt on the final hole to leave himself in a good position to make the weekend. He sits right on the cut line on three over, with round two to be completed on Saturday morning.

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