Matt Fitzpatrick leads as Tommy Fleetwood shines in Dubai
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 18/11/17 12:06pm
Matt Fitzpatrick claimed the halfway lead at the DP World Tour Championship as Tommy Fleetwood reignited his Race to Dubai hopes with a superb second round.
Justin Rose had vaulted to the top of the projected Race to Dubai standings when he outscored long-time leader Fleetwood by seven shots in the opening round, but Fleetwood reduced the deficit to two strokes after returning a seven-under 65 against Rose's 70.
Tyrrell Hatton stormed into outright second with a sparkling 63 blighted only by a bogey at the last which robbed him of the chance to break the course record on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates, with Rose alongside Julian Suri and Kiradech Aphibarnrat in a tie for third.
Fleetwood admitted he was nervous on the first tee on Thursday as he started with a double-bogey six, but he atoned early on day two with a birdie which he followed with another at the second, and he picked up further shots at five and six before getting into trouble at the seventh and making his first bogey of the day.
But the Englishman responded with a steady run of pars before making three birdies in four holes from the 12th, and a well-judged two-putt for another birdie at the last lifted him to six under par - just four adrift of Fitzpatrick heading into the weekend.
Hatton was the stand-out player of the second day as he birdied the third and then holed out from 144 yards for a spectacular eagle-two at the fifth, and further birdies at the next two holes continued to propel him up the leaderboard.
The 26-year-old reeled off three straight birdies after the turn, and two more at 16 and 17 left him needing a birdie at the last to post a record 61, but his second shot plugged in a bunker and he needed two attempts to escape before two-putting for a frustrating six.
Hatton held the clubhouse lead for much of the day until he was surpassed by Fitzpatrick, whose resolute 67 featured five birdies and an eagle at the 14th after a delightful second to six feet.
The defending champion hit back from his second bogey of the day at 17 with a long-range putt for a closing birdie at the last, and he said: "It was great to hole that 25-footer on the last. I've been putting really, really well all week so far, and it was actually the first one from sort of that length we felt like was a fairly easy read. It was nice to see it go in.
"I won here last year, so I've got nothing to lose. Obviously it would be nice to defend but you know sort of the odds when you're coming into the tournament, there's great players at the top of the leaderboard already.
"Winning last year probably gives me a little bit more confidence than everyone else, maybe apart from Rosey because he's won the last two starts, but I'm just looking forward to the weekend and delighted that I could put myself in position."
Rose's form was patchy throughout, although he looked on course to consolidate his advantage over Fleetwood when he followed five opening pars with birdies at the sixth and seventh, although he gave a shot back at the next to turn in 35.
He did well to grind out another series of pars until getting back on the birdie trail at 14 and 15, but he hit a wayward second to the last and compounded the error by three-putting to sign off with a bogey which dropped him back to eight under par.
European Tour Rookie of the Year Jon Rahm is a further shot behind along with overnight leader Patrick Reed and British Masters champion Paul Dunne, while Fleetwood's seven-under round elevated him into a share of 11th place.
Sergio Garcia needs a victory to stand any chance of ending the season as European No 1, and the Spaniard will start the weekend five shots off the pace after he birdied three of the last six holes to post a solid 69.