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Woods steps up challenge in Abu Dhabi to trail leader Olesen by two shots

updated 12:24 PM EST, Fri January 27, 2012
Tiger Woods was pleased with his play in the second round of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.
Tiger Woods was pleased with his play in the second round of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.
  • Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark leads at halfway in Abu Dhabi Golf Championship
  • Olesen has one-shot advantage over Gareth Maybin and Matteo Manassero
  • Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy tied for fourth a further stroke behind
  • Phil Mickelson shoots 'pathetic' 77 in PGA Tour event at Torrey Pines

(CNN) -- Tiger Woods moved into contention at the halfway stage of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship Friday as he bids for successive tournament victories.

The former World No.1 carded a second round three-under par 69 for five-under 139, two behind leader Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark.

It is the first outing of the year for Woods, who rounded off 2011 with victory in the Chevron World Challenge in California.

Frustrated with his putting in a first round 70, Woods rolled home birdie putts at the 11th, 12th and 15th, but bogeyed the next after driving into the rough.

Blog: Why golf (and big business) still need Tiger Woods

It provoked an angry reaction, but at the end of his round the American was satisfied.

"I thought I played well today," he told the official European Tour website.

"I feel like I'm swinging well and a lot of things that Sean (coach Sean Foley) and I have been working on are starting to feel very comfortable.

"I've grown to understand what he wants me to do and how my body is going to do those things and produce the numbers he wants me to produce."

I feel like I'm swinging well and a lot of things that Sean Foley and I have been working on are starting to feel very comfortable
Tiger Woods

Woods ended on the same mark as playing partner Rory McIlroy, who followed his opening 67 with a level par 72.

The 22-year-old U.S. Open champion was penalized two shots for a rules infringement on the ninth, brought to his attention by World No.1 Luke Donald, who was the third member of the high-powered group.

"I wasn't thinking clearly and just made a very stupid mental mistake," McIlroy said about the error which cost him a share of the lead.

But the big names will all have to catch 22-year-old Olesen, who carded a second round 67 to hold a one-shot lead over Gareth Maybin of Northern Ireland and Italian teenager Matteo Manassero in joint second.

"I hit it pretty close and holed some good putts," said World No. 171 Olesen.

Meanwhile, Donald remained off the pace on one-under after a 72 and World No.2 Lee Westwood is on level par.

Westwood has been struggling with a neck problem but a hat-trick of birdies made sure he will be around for the weekend.

On the PGA Tour, Kyle Stanley and Spencer Levin shared the lead after the opening round of the $6 million Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.

The American pair both shot 10-under 62s on the North Course, considered easier than the South Course which is also being used for the tournament.

They lead Bill Haas by a shot while Marc Turnesa had the lowest score on the South with a 66.

But three-time champion Phil Mickelson had a disastrous 77, finding 11 bunkers and describing his score as "pathetic."

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