Matt Fitzpatrick one off halfway lead at Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship
By Ali Stafford
Last Updated: 17/01/20 2:31pm
Matt Fitzpatrick continued his bogey-free start to the week to move within a shot of the lead at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, as Brooks Koepka slipped down the leaderboard.
The Englishman followed an opening-round 67 with a five-under 66 to set the clubhouse target at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, only for Francesco Laporta to edge ahead with a stunning round-of-the-day 63.
Get the best prices and book a round at one of 1,700 courses across the UK & Ireland
Laporta birdied his last five holes to grab a one-shot advantage over Fitzpatrick and Rafa Cabrera-Bello, with Sergio Garcia two off the pace on eight under alongside Haotong Li and overnight joint-leader Renato Paratore.
Koepka fell seven strokes behind after posting a three-over 75, despite birdieing his first two holes, while defending champion Shane Lowry was among the notable names to miss the cut.
"For the first week of the year, to have no bogeys, couldn't ask for a better start really," Fitzpatrick told Sky Sports. "Just played really disciplined golf and it's worked out well so far."
Beginning on the back nine, Fitzpatrick followed birdies at the 13th, 15th and 17th with a two-putt birdie at the par-five 18th before ending a run of pars with a five-foot gain on his penultimate hole.
Five birdies in a seven-hole stretch around the turn helped Cabrera-Bello card a four-under 67 to also get to nine under, while Paratore was also tied for the lead until he bogeyed his final hole.
Laporta made back-to-back birdies from the second and picked up shots at the ninth and 11th, before a birdie at the 14th sparked a remarkable finish from the world No 124.
The Italian rolled in from six feet at the 15th and close range at the next to get within one of the lead, before following a 15-foot birdie at the 17th with a two-putt gain at the last to snatch top spot.
Patrick Cantlay heads into the weekend on seven under despite finishing his second-round 66, while Koepka mixed four birdies and three bogeys with two double-bogeys to drop into tied-36th.
Lowry missed the cut by a stroke after bogeying the final two holes of his second-round 74, with Bryson DeChambeau also making an early exit following a five-over 77.
Watch the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship throughout the weekend live on Sky Sports. Live coverage continues on Saturday from 8am on Sky Sports Golf.