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Lowry fights to hold Abu Dhabi halfway lead by 1 stroke

Irish golfer Shane Lowry followed his opening 10-under 62 with a fighting 70 at the Abu Dhabi Championship to limit his shrinking lead to one stroke on Thursday.

Lowry started nervously with bogeys on two of his first three holes, then held off South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Richard Sterne thanks to sublime play on the par-3s. He's birdied the par-3s six times and parred the other two.

He also enjoyed some good saves, lifting himself out of a deep greenside bunker at No. 10 to within eight feet, and chipping from rough at the back of 14 to six feet. Lowry also narrowly missed birdie chances on 11 and 13.

Shane Lowry of Ireland measures the distance with his club after the ball hit the rough following his tee-off on the third hole in round two of the Abu Dhabi Championship golf tournament in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Thursday, January 17, 2019. (APMartin Dokoupil)

Oosthuizen's challenge faltered after the turn when he bogeyed Nos. 10 and 11, but he rebounded quickly to compensate. He put pressure on Lowry on the last hole, where his second shot bounced out of the bunker, and he hit his approach to within inches for a tap-in birdie, his sixth in the round for a 68.

Sterne remained flawless after two rounds to post 68, too.

Lee Westwood was alone in fourth on 10 under after a bogey-free 68.

Richard Sterne of South Africa tees off at the third hole in round two of the Abu Dhabi Championship golf tournament in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Thursday, January 17, 2019. (APMartin Dokoupil)

Ian Poulter shared the lead before Lowry teed off. He had a birdie putt on his penultimate hole for the outright lead but missed right. Then he found water on his last hole, the ninth, and dropped his first shot of the round. He was three off the lead with Scott Jamieson, Tom Lewis and Soren Kjeldsen.

Tommy Fleetwood, the two-time defending champion, made the cut at 3 under overall thanks to a last-hole, eight-foot birdie putt. He finished the second round in par.

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Lee Westwood of England tees off at the 11th hole in round two of the Abu Dhabi Championship golf tournament in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. (APMartin Dokoupil)

Ian Poulter of England strikes the ball from a bunker on the 10th hole in round two of the Abu Dhabi Championship golf tournament in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. (AP PhotoMartin Dokoupil)

Scott Jamieson of Scotland tees off at the 17th hole in round two of the Abu Dhabi Championship golf tournament in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Thursday, January 17, 2019. (APMartin Dokoupil)

Soren Kjeldsen of Denmark strikes the ball near the 15th green in round two of the Abu Dhabi Championship golf tournament in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019. (APMartin Dokoupil)