Date: January 17, 2009

Green shares lead

Australian Richard Green holds a share of the lead at the halfway mark of the Abu Dhabi Championship. Green and playing partner Graeme Storm head into the weekend sharing top spot on 11-under-par, the Australian left-hander going to the turn in 30 and finishing with a 65. Green is looking to climb back into the world&aposs top 50 in time for The Masters in April – he is currently 63rd – and his performance revived memories of his play-off victory over Greg Norman and Ian Woosnam in nearby Dubai 12 years ago. The 37-year-old from Melbourne was relatively unknown then, but two years ago finished fourth in The Open at Carnoustie. Fellow Aussies Robert Allenby and Scott Strange are six shots off the lead at five-under, while Rod Pampling is a further three strokes behind. Playing his first event since the Volvo Masters at the start of November, the 30-year-old former British amateur champion blasted a 64 containing an eagle and seven birdies. “We always play well together,” said Storm, who took time off to work on his fitness with the same trainer who has helped Lee Westwood back into the world&aposs top 10. “I had a look at where I needed to improve and Pete (coach Pete Cowen) said I needed to get stronger. I&aposve been working hard. “I holed some great putts and that takes the pressure off the rest of your game.” Padraig Harrington, having opened with a somewhat disappointing 71, charged to within four shots of the lead with a 66. Anxious to get finished before the light went, the Dubliner played the last two holes at speed – out of character for a man once described by Retief Goosen as “no boy racer” – and birdied them both. Ryder Cup team-mate and newly-wed Paul Casey, whose victory in the event two years ago was his last win, went one better than Harrington and on 10 under is joint third with Londoner Anthony Wall. Nineteen-year-old Rory McIlroy is only two back and Colin Montgomerie matched his best round of last season with a 67 for five under. Montgomerie was then inundated with questions about whether, as reported, he is a contender for the 2010 Ryder Cup captaincy rather than 2014 if favourite Jose Maria Olazabal turns it down. The 45-year-old, having said it would be &aposa shame&apos if fellow Scot Sandy Lyle did not get the job, is part of the committee deciding the issue in two weeks&apos time. So has an offer been made? “At this stage it has not,” he said, while adding that it would be “an honour” to be selected. World No.2 Sergio Garcia&aposs 71 left him eight adrift and Masters champion Trevor Immelman is alongside him following a 69. Just under 30 players have still to complete their second rounds, so the halfway cut will not be decided until the morning. It will be either two under or one under and, either way, Ryder Cup stars Henrik Stenson and Miguel Angel Jimenez miss out. Second Round of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship (Play suspended due to darkness) -11: Richard Green (Australia) 68 65, Graeme Storm 69 64 -10: Paul Casey 69 65, Anthony Wall 67 67 -9: Johan Edfors 66 69, Rory McIlroy 66 69, Brett Rumford 68 67, Mikael Lundberg 66 (after 16 holes) -8: Martin Kaymer 68 68, Louis Oosthuizen 67 69, Oliver Fisher 67 (16) -7: Rafael Cabrera Bello 68 69, Ignacio Garrido 67 70, Anders Hansen 70 67, Soren Hansen 71 66, Padraig Harrington 71 66, Danny Willett 71 66 -6: Peter Hanson 67 71, Danny Lee (AM) (New Zealand) 68 70, Francesco Molinari (16) 67 Also: -5: Robert Allenby (Australia) 71 68, Scott Strange (Australia) 73 66 -3: Mark Brown (New Zealand) 72 69 -2: Rod Pampling (Australia) 70 72 -1: Aaron Baddeley (Australia) 72 71 +3: Peter O Malley (Australia) 75 72