Rafa Cabrera-Bello leads Qatar Masters by two shots

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DOHA, Qatar — Rafa Cabrera-Bello birdied four of his last five holes for a 7-under-par 65 Thursday to take a two-shot lead after the second round of the Qatar Masters.

The Spaniard had three straight birdies from the 14th and then rolled in another at 18 for a 13-under total of 131. The late charge meant he overtook first-round leader George Coetzee, who carded 69 earlier in the day at the Doha Golf Club course.

Cabrera-Bello has a history of playing well in the desert, having finished second in Doha three years ago and coming fourth in Abu Dhabi last week.

“I got on a very hot streak on my back nine with the putter, so that was very good,” the Spaniard said. “Playing here in the Middle East definitely feels like back home in Gran Canaria as the golf courses have plenty of waste sand around and also plenty of rocks like here in Qatar. There is always a bit of a breeze, like the sea breeze we get back home, and then there are palm trees, and I like having sun shining on the golf course.”

Three players – Johan Carlsson (65), Matthew Baldwin (66) and Steve Webster (69) – are tied for third on 10 under.

John Daly is another two shots back after 69 as he tries to end a 10-year winless drought.

“I play to win and I feel I am still very competitive, and barring some injuries the last six years who knows what would have happened,” Daly said. “I feel pretty good right now. ... I still feel like I can still win.”

Cabrera-Bello is looking for his third European Tour victory, while Coetzee is trying to claim his first. The South African overcame a double bogey 6 on his second hole by making seven birdies in a round that also included two bogeys.

“After taking the double at my second I just told myself, make some putts, and lucky I did,” he said.

Ernie Els only narrowly made the cut after finishing with two bogeys for a 76. Fellow South African Brandon Stone missed the cut despite becoming the first player in 2014 to make a hole-in-one on the European Tour when he holed a 212-yard 5-iron at the 12th. Stone finished with 70, which wasn’t enough to make up for 76 in the first round.

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