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Lee responds to messages with strong showing

Craig Lee has acknowledged the support of his family and friends as he lifts himself back into contention in the Qatar Masters following last week's Abu Dhabi heartbreak.

Craig Lee is eight shots off the lead
Craig Lee is eight shots off the lead

The Scot went into the final round last Sunday in the UAE capital leading by two shots and out in the last group alongside five-time major winner Phil Mickelson, only to post the second-highest round for a share of 10th place.

Lee trails leader Rafael Cabrera-Bello by eight shots, although the Spaniard was likely more concerned about the whereabouts of yesterday's playing partner Paul McGinley. Cabrera-Bello outscored Europe's Ryder Cup captain by 12 strokes and will hope that each one counts when McGinley comes to consider his team to face the United States.

Lee was content simply to recover from an indifferent opening-round 72 in Doha and the Bridge of Allan golfer has now forced his way towards the pointed end of the event with a bogey-free five-under-par 67. It was a round which was fuelled in part by the goodwill of family and friends back home.

"All the emails and text messages I've received have been great from back home," said Lee. "I've had all my family and friends being on contact, as you would expect, and all just helping to pick me up which has been nice. Normally, a top-10 is good so the support is great.

"It will be nice now for those supporting me, given we are a few hours ahead of the UK, that when they get up and get on to the internet they see my score - it's a nice positive start also to their day. You always start a new week, no matter the result, forgetting about what happened the week before and just get on with it."

Lee's round comprised five birdies and he was quick to identify his favourite afterwards - a 195-yard 6-iron which landed only two feet from the sixth hole. "Looking at the leaderboard, I am going to have to shoot scores like that again to have a chance with the scoring a lot better than last year," he added.

"I'm not going to work on the game this afternoon so I will just go to the gym tonight for about 40 minutes, with a bit of a jog and then some stretching as that seems to be the winning formula."

It would seem likely that Bathgate's Stephen Gallacher will also seek to follow the same routine after carding birdies on his closing two holes in a round 68 to be also finish at seven under par. Compatriots Chris Doak carded a 72 for a score of 141 and Peter Whiteford hit a 73 to sit at 145 overall, while Jamie McLeary carded a 71 for a score of 145 and Marc Warren registered a round of 76, with an overall score of 146.

They were all left looking up at the leaderboard to see Cabrera-Bello in front after he birdied four of his closing five holes in a round of 65, to lead by two shots with a 13-under par tally. The Spaniard was runner-up in Doha in 2011 and a year later captured the 2012 Dubai Desert Classic, while he shared the lead for the first two rounds last week in Abu Dhabi before eventually finishing fourth.

"I'm very happy, everything is going good and I am enjoying myself a lot," he said. "It definitely feels like home. I like playing in short-sleeves, I like seeing palm trees and sand around the course."

Paul Lawrie, twice a champion in Doha, would be not be nearly as enamoured with the condition of his round, though. The Scot would describe his round of 70 as "boring" after just two birdies - albeit one comprised a 35-footer at the 8th hole - and 16 pars moved him to a score of seven under par.

"It was very boring today," said Lawrie. "I didn't do an awful lot right and I didn't hit the ball all that well as I did yesterday. I also didn't make enough putts and to shoot two under was just about right.

"But given I'm not into the bigger events this year my schedule is going to be quieter than in the past. My Foundation is moving forward very well and the Golf Centre was a big job in taking that on - but I need to play. I need to get back to what I what I do best and that's why I've put some new guys in my team who have got me a bit more focused."

While Lawrie looks to become the first three-time champion in Qatar, he also expressed support for his eldest son, Craig, who turned pro this week at a mini Tour event in Turkey.

"He shot 79 and 81 but felt very nervous," said Lawrie. "He'll get there as he's a good kid who works hard ."

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