Kaymer (67) remains in front in Abu Dhabi


Martin Kaymer's effort to turn back the clock in Abu Dhabi continues.

Kaymer won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship three times from 2008-11, a stretch that was interrupted only by a runner-up finish in 2009. After rounds of 64 and 67, he finds himself in a familiar position atop the leaderboard, leading by one shot heading into the weekend.

Already the only three-time winner in tournament history, Kaymer is halfway to title No. 4 in just the 10th edition of the event. He has played 30 competitive rounds at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, a par-72 layout where his stroke average has now been lowered to an incredible 68.66.

The German has made only one bogey through 36 holes, and he was blemish-free during Friday's second round. Kaymer's tee-to-green game remained consistent, as he hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation for the second consecutive day. One of his five birdies came after a rare missed green, though: after starting on No. 10, his approach to the par-4 first hole found a greenside bunker. From there, Kaymer holed his sand shot for an unexpected birdie.

Kaymer's main competition appears to be Rory McIlroy, who trails by two shots in an event he has never won, but the Ulsterman won't be joining Kaymer in Saturday's final pairing. That spot instead goes to Thomas Pieters, a Belgian who won the NCAA individual title while at Illinois in 2012. Pieters caught Kaymer at 13 under late in his round, but a closing bogey on No. 9 dropped him one shot off the pace at the halfway point.

The pole position belongs to Kaymer alone, the current No. 12 in the OWGR in search of his first worldwide victory since the U.S. Open in June.