Cabrera-Bello Now Leads in Qatar

Rafa Cabrera-Bello carded a 7-under 65 to take over the 36-hole lead in the Qatar Masters. The European Tour event began Wednesday at Doha Golf Club.

The 29-year-old Spaniard, a two-time winner on the European circuit whose last victory came in the 2012 Dubai Desert Classic, posted eight birdies and a bogey Thursday to reach 11-under 133, two strokes ahead of 18-hole leader George Coetzee who followed up his opening 64 with a 69, and three in front of Sweden's Johan Carlsson (65) and two Brits, Matthew Baldwin (66) and Steve Webster (69).

"I got on a very hot streak on my back nine with the putter, so that was very good," said Cabrera-Bello, who posted four of his five birdies on the last five holes. "Playing here in the Middle East definitely feels like back home in (his home of) 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."

Four behind the leader are Tom Lewis (67), Romain Wattel (68), Mikko Ilonen (67) and Thomas Aiken (68), and five back are Alejandro Canizares (68), Francois Calmels (70), Peter Hanson (67), Branden Grace (69) and Anthony Wall (66).

Also at 136 is John Daly, who's continuing his fine play this week. The two-time major winner from Arkansas followed up his opening 67 with a 69. "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."

The 36-hole cut was set at 1-under 143. Four-time major winner Ernie Els shot rounds of 67 and 76 to qualify for the weekend right on the number.

Not so fortunate is Brandon Stone, despite becoming the first European Tour player of the new season to make a hole-in-one. The South African aced the 212-yard 5-iron 12th for a 70, but it wasn't enough to overcome a 76 in the first round.

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