Rick Kulacz leads Abu Dhabi Golf Championship after birdie blitz

Little-known Australian Rick Kulacz blazed 11 birdies in a nine-under-par 63 second round to snatch a one-shot halfway lead at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.

The 24-year-old Perth native secured limited playing rights on the European Tour with a final round 64 at Q-School last year - a round he rates as his best ever given what was at stake - but was handed a spot in the field this week via a sponsors invite.



And the two-time winner on the Asian Tour took full advantage to charge up the leaderboard to 12-under-par and clear of Sergio Garcia, Shane Lowry and Peter Hanson.



While Kulacz's round, a figure Paul Casey also posted en route to winning last year, is an achievement in itself, it is make more remarkable given the fact he was so unhappy with his pre-tournament practice he needed a phone call to his coach back home on Wednesday to iron out the flaws in his game.



"I was just in the zone. I tried to get it on the green and every putt went in, it was just one of those days where everything went right," said Kulacz, who dropped just one shot in his first round 69.



"That round is definitely top five in my career. I think the one at Q-School was better under the circumstances; to get to Europe was pretty special."



Kulacz shot a final round 65 to come back from four behind to win New South Wales Open as amateur in 2006, while he achieved a first win as a professional courtesy of a chip in on the first play-off hole at the 2008 Brunei Open.



"I will have to see if I can deal with the pressure, it's a totally different story than Q-School," added Kulacz. "The players are the best in the world excluding the USA and they are way too good to go backwards."



Irish Open champion Lowry carded a bogey-free seven-under-par 65, world number 13 Garcia dropped just one shot in a 67, while Sweden's Hanson went one better with a flawless five-under-par second round over The National Course at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.



Former champion and last year's runner-up Martin Kaymer (67), Chris Wood, who carded a bogey-free 64, and Rhys Davies (68) are just a further shot off the pace with Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter in a group at nine-under-par.



Defending champion Casey beat the cut with a second round 69 to advance to the weekend alongside Italian amateur Matteo Manassero after the British amateur winner crucially birdied the last to card a 72.



But European number one Lee Westwood crashed out after citing a prolonged Christmas break and a new set of irons as the reasons for his 78 which included six bogeys.



"Yesterday was just a really good 69, it could have easily been 77 the way I played," he said. "I got away with murder yesterday and today I didn't."

BUY WIMBLEDON TICKETS

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy