sport

Garcia in the clear

Sergio Garcia was again at the centre of attention as the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship continued on Friday.

A day after labelling the rough at Abu Dhabi Golf Club "dangerous", video emerged overnight of a possible rules infraction during Garcia's opening round of 76.

Footage showed the Spaniard tapping down something on the line of his putt on the 18th green, which would have been in breach of the rules if it was a spike mark.

However, the world number 10 and European Tour chief referee John Paramor went out to the 18th green on Friday morning and Paramor was satisfied with Garcia's explanation that he had tapped down a repaired pitch mark.

Coincidentally, England's Simon Dyson has returned to action in Abu Dhabi for the first time since being handed a suspended two-month ban from the European Tour for tapping down a spike mark.

Dyson was joint second after 36 holes of the BMW Masters in October when he was disqualified for signing for an incorrect score in the second round. The 36-year-old failed to add a two-shot penalty to his card after an incident on the eighth hole at Lake Malaren, when he touched the line of his putt after marking his ball, using the ball to flatten a spike mark.

Having reviewed the incident after being alerted to it by television viewers, European Tour officials charged Dyson with a serious breach of the tour's code of behaviour, a charge which was upheld when he appeared before a disciplinary panel at Wentworth in December.

In Abu Dhabi, Scotland's Craig Lee had moved into the outright lead on six under par thanks to four birdies and two bogeys in his first 10 holes of the second round.

Lee, who completed an opening 68 with four birdies in his last five holes and a par save from 35 feet on the last, picked up shots second time around on the first, fifth, seventh and 10th, with bogeys coming on the sixth and ninth.

Garcia had labelled the thick rough here as "dangerous'' as he struggled to an opening 76, with the Ryder Cup star also needing treatment on the course for a shoulder injury.

His participation in the second round had been in doubt, but there were few signs of the problem as he covered the front nine in 32 to get back to level par for the tournament.

Open champion Phil Mickelson was also level par after playing his first 12 holes on Friday in one under, the same score helping playing partner Rory McIlroy move to three under overall following his opening 70.

McIlroy picked up another shot on the 13th before he and Mickelson birdied the 14th in contrasting fashion.

McIlroy's approach from the rough clattered into the flag and stopped two feet from the hole, while Mickelson came up well short of the green but pitched in for an unlikely three.

At five under par, McIlroy was within four of the lead now shared by Lee and Spain's Rafael Cabrera-Bello, who had picked up four shots in five holes around the turn.