Pieters leads in Abu Dhabi as Johnson, McIlroy lurk

The Associated Press
Thomas Pieters of Belgium plays a shot during round two of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship at Abu Dhabi Golf Club on January 19, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / KARIM SAHIB
KARIM SAHIB / AFP / Getty

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates - Thomas Pieters shot a second-round 65 to take a one-stroke lead at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on Friday as top-ranked Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy moved into contention.

Johnson followed up his ragged opening-round 72 with a bogey-free 8-under 64, tied for the low round of the tournament, and was four shots back. He won by eight shots two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.

McIlroy, playing his first event since October, finished with an eagle on the par-5 18th and was three shots behind Pieters after a 66. The former world No. 1 is coming off a winless 2017 and plans a busy schedule in the run-up to the Masters.

Jorge Campillo of Spain trailed Pieters by one shot after a 64. Last year's Race to Dubai winner, Tommy Fleetwood - who played with Johnson and McIlroy - was another shot back, along with Alexander Levy and Ross Fisher.