GOLF: Darren Clarke exits Abu Dhabi but Paul Dunne right in the mix

Paul Dunne

Paul Dunne

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Darren Clarke has missed the cut at the Abu Dhabi Championship after a second successive round of 75.

It left the former Ryder Cup captain from Northern Ireland on six over par overall, with the cut at two under par.

Starting on the 10th, Clarke began his second round steadily but then had a double bogey on the par-four 16th and dropped another shot at 17.

Martin Kaymer of Germany leads the tournament on 12 under par and Spain’s Rafa Cabrera Bello is on 11 under.

Ireland’s Paul Dunne, England’s Tommy Fleetwood and Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat were two shots off the pace on 10 under.

Dunne, who was still an amateur when he shared the 54-hole lead in the 2015 Open, had five birdies and an eagle in a 66 in pursuit of his first European Tour title.

The 24-year-old said: “It would be great. It’s nice to be up there again, that’s why we practice and what we prepare for.

“It’s going to be nice to be in one of the later groups tomorrow and hopefully I can play like I did the last couple of days over the weekend and I think I’ll have a good chance.”

Former world number one Kaymer carded a second consecutive 66 to lead.

The two-time major winner lifted the trophy in Abu Dhabi in 2008, 2010 and 2011, but amazingly blew a 10-shot lead in the final round in 2015 and remains without a victory since the 2014 US Open.

That meant Kaymer reverted to his winter practice regime in America for the first time in three years, a decision which helped produce an eagle on the par-five eighth and six birdies in a back nine of 31.

“I’m not quite 100 per cent happy yet with the way I played, but we always have those little things if you’re a perfectionist,” Kaymer said. “But overall it paid off fairly well so far.

“I felt like I played a little better than yesterday, because it was a bit more difficult with the wind. I struck the ball with a little better quality but made a few long putts, the same as yesterday.

“I don’t try to push at all, I just try to enjoy playing my favourite golf course.”