Defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick shot a second straight five-under-par 67 to secure a one-stroke lead halfway through the European Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship on Friday in Dubai.
At 10 under after two rounds on the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estate, Fitzpatrick was edging English compatriot Tyrrell Hatton, whom he beat by one shot to win the title last year.
Hatton moved into contention with a brilliant nine-under 63, a round soured only by a closing bogey on the par-five 18th hole.
In the race to win the Order of Merit, main protagonists Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose experienced contrasting emotions to their opening rounds. Fleetwood boosted his chances by rising into a tie for 11th at six under after a 65. Rose endured a three-putt bogey on the 18th to finish with a 70, and dropped on the leaderboard so he’s just two shots ahead of Fleetwood.
U.S. Masters champion Sergio Garcia, the only other player with a chance to win the Order of Merit, stayed in contention by adding a 69 to his opening 70 to be one shot behind Fleetwood.
Fleetwood needs to equal or better Rose’s finishing position to claim the title. If Rose doesn’t finish in the top five and Garcia doesn’t win, Fleetwood will have done enough.
Fitzpatrick made two bogeys but eagled the 14th, and five birdies contributed to his 67.
He was helped immensely also by the 18th, where Hatton, Rose, and overnight leader Patrick Reed all made bogeys. Fitzpatrick birdied the hole for a second straight day with a 25-foot putt.
“I said to my caddie, we were putting really, really well all week so far,” Fitzpatrick said.
“The thing is, you get so many fast putts around here, even uphill into the green, they are still running at 12, 13 even. You’ve just got to be really sort of careful. Every putt is effectively a two-putt. You’ve got to control your pace well and limit your mistakes, because it’s easy to three-putt out here.”
Rose, hoping to win a third straight tournament after triumphs in China and Turkey, was disappointed with his finish despite playing solid golf from tee to green.
“To make six (on 18) just ends the day on the wrong note, but other than that, I played really well on the back nine,” Rose said.
“I was aware of the scores and who had done what today. But listen, halfway stage, I’d probably have signed up for that if somebody said on Wednesday you would be in this position after two rounds. It’s a position you can build on the weekend.”
Cook has one-shot lead at RSM Classic
PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook sank a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at RSM Classic.
Cook has gone 36 holes without making a bogey on the Plantation Course or the Seaside Course at Sea Island Golf Club in St. Simons Island, Ga. He played Seaside on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.
Cook was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.
Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back.
Park’s birdie binge good for three-shot lead
Sung Hyun Park made five straight birdies and seized control late in the round with an eagle for a seven-under 65 and a three-shot lead in the CME Group Tour Championship.
The lead might have been larger except for Park’s three-putt bogey on the 18th hole at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla.
Not only was she three ahead of Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith, none of the other players vying for all the awards was within five shots. Lexi Thompson shot a 67 and wound up losing ground. She was six shots behind. Park was at 12-under 132.
A victory would allow the 24-year-old South Korean to sweep all the big awards and become the first rookie since Nancy Lopez in 1978 to win LPGA player of the year.