Friday, November 17, 2017

Fitzpatrick takes one-stroke lead in Dubai finale with a pair of 67s for 10-under 134

England's Matthew Fitzpatrick took a one-stroke lead on 10 under --par 134 (67-67) at halfway in the end-of-season Tour Championship in Dubai as Tommy Fleetwood moved into contention.

10 under par M Fitzpatrick (Eng)
-9 T Hatton (Eng)
-8 J Rose (Eng), J Suri (US), K Aphibarnrat (Tha)
-7 J Rahm (Spa), S Kjeldsen (Den), P Dunne (Ire), S Hend (NZ), P Reed (US)
Selected others: 
-6 T Fleetwood (Eng)
-5 S Garcia (Spa); I Poulter (Eng), S Lowry (Ire), R Fisher (Eng)

England's Justin Rose, Race to Dubai leader Fleetwood's main rival, is tied third, with compatriot Tyrrell Hatton second after a nine-under-par 63.

Englishman Fleetwood, who shot a one-over first round, carded a 65 to move to six under, tied for 11th.

"We needed a low score to get back into the event," he told BBC Sport.

"At least with that score I have kept myself in with a chance of the tournament."

Fitzpatrick, 23, is looking to win his second successive Tour Championship, having beaten Hatton by one stroke last year.

He has shot back-to-back rounds of 67 this week, moving to 10 under on Friday after carding five birdies and an eagle at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Rose, who trails 26-year-old Fleetwood by 256,738 points in the Race to Dubai, needs a top-two finish to add the Race to Dubai to his 2007 Order of Merit title.

Rose, 37, would have moved into a share of second with Hatton had he not bogeyed the 18th.

Fleetwood, who double-bogeyed the first in his opening round, carded eight birdies on Friday, a dropped shot at the par-five seventh the only blemish on his card.

"Today was pressure in a different way," he added. "Yesterday I was clearly nervous. I don't know a person in the world who wouldn't be when it's a new situation.

"I didn't feel great on the greens. Today, best of the greens, perfect conditions and I holed some."

Sergio Garcia, third in the Race to Dubai, is five under for the tournament.

To win the Race to Dubai, the Spaniard needs a victory, Fleetwood to finish outside the top 20 and Rose to finish outside the top four.

Hatton was on target to equal or better Rose's course record of 62 after holing from 144 yards for an eagle on the fifth and making eight birdies, only to bogey the last.

The world number 17 did the same in the final round 12 months ago to lose out to Fitzpatrick.

"My head is a bit all over the place after 18. It's a pretty bitter pill to swallow," said Hatton. "That hole seems to hate me. Hopefully one day I'll actually play it well."


BBC golf correspondent Iain Carter

Tommy Fleetwood passed a stern character test with a superb 65.

Clearly shellshocked after his opening 73, the 26-year-old regrouped impressively to take full advantage of the more benign morning conditions.

It is proving an intriguing climax to the European Tour season. Justin Rose's bogey at the last, when he took four to get down from the edge of the green, was an unfamiliar unforced error.

Nevertheless he remains very well placed and Fleetwood knows he will require more of his Friday form over the weekend to claim the Race title.

Meanwhile, Matthew Fitzpatrick continues his love affair with this course - he looks so at home on these putting surfaces.

Tyrell Hatton rediscovered his own putting touch and that helps explain why the top two from last year are the lead pair at the halfway stage this time.



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