Matthew Fitzpatrick of England and Tyrrel Hatton of England shake hands after their round on the 18th hole during Day Two of the DP World Tour Championship on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates on November 18, 2022 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Dubai: Ryder Cup teammates Matt Fitzpatrick and Tyrrell Hatton share the halfway lead at the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, moving three stokes clear of the chasing pack at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
U.S. Open Champion Fitzpatrick is seeking a third DP World Tour Championship victory, to add to his 2016 and 2020 triumphs, and he is also now the front-runner in the race to finish the season at the top of the DP World Tour Rankings in partnership with Rolex.
If Fitzpatrick were to win a second Rolex Series title in Dubai, he would need World Number One Rory McIlroy to finish worse than second. However, if the 28-year-old were to finish runner-up, McIlroy would need to finish the week worse than seventh for Fitzpatrick to end the year as European Number One for the first time.
Fitzpatrick and Hatton carded five under par rounds of 67 to reach 12 under par, sitting three strokes ahead of Spaniard Adri Arnaus and Sweden’s Alex Noren. One stroke further back on eight under par are two-time DP World Tour Championship winner Jon Rahm and compatriot Jorge Campillo.
McIlroy carded a four under round of 68 to move to five under par in a share of 11th as he seeks to become just the second player in history to win the DP World Tour Rankings and PGA TOUR’s FedEx Cup in the same season.
India’s Shubhankar Sharma is lying tied 29th after rounds of 73-71.
What they said…
Matt Fitzpatrick: “Yeah, really pleased. Another good, solid score around here. Felt comfortable the way I was hitting it and felt like I drove it a bit better today and try to keep doing more of the same over the weekend.
“I knew the Race to Dubai was in the back of my mind. To be honest it wasn’t something I was really thinking about. My focus was just trying to win the event this week.
“Like I say, I feel like I’ve put two good rounds to start with and put myself in position and do more of the same and see where it gets me on Sunday.
“Just got to keep pushing on. Yeah, just keep playing how I feel like I’m playing right now. I feel really comfortable with where my game is at, particularly after three weeks off and looking forward to the weekend.”
Tyrrell Hatton: “I mean, I’m pretty happy with the score. Got off to another nice start again today. I feel like I’ve generally played some pretty good golf. We got a little unlucky on the back nine which I feel like it stalled our momentum a little bit. Really happy to par the last today. That’s probably one of the best three woods I’ve hit in my life to be fair and I didn’t realize it was as close as it was. It was a tough crowd on 18. Nice way to finish the day.
“It is, the rough, Bermuda, is just hard to play out of. It’s just very inconsistent. The minute you start missing fairways, it’s just hard to make par. I mean, I holed a really good par putt on 16 after being out of position off the tee. But yeah, hopefully the putter stays fairly hot and we have a good weekend.
“Yeah, there’s still 36 holes to play. I have a fairly good record around here. Matt has an excellent record around here. But you know, we’ll enjoy each other’s company tomorrow and hopefully we can keep playing well.”
Alex Noren: “Yesterday felt sort of easier than today. We teed off earlier, no, wind, no expectations really. Of course you want to do well from the start but I got going quite early in the round. Today was sort of like you get a punch in the face when you kind of think the course is maybe easier than it is. If you are out of position a few times on the front nine, it’s tougher than what you drive it in play. From seven, I started playing better and got my head around it and yeah, I’m happy with the last 11, 12 holes.
“Yeah, it’s pretty nice now and I know exactly what the course plays like. You pretty much know the pins that are going to be. It plays a little bit different from three years when I was here last time, a little bit more rough. So like try to avoid the bogeys when you’re out of position, maybe try to play a little safer. Maybe just hit the green instead of trying to hit close with the wedges from the rough because it’s not a guarantee to even hit the greens from the rough. And then keep the driver in the air to get up there because this course, you need long drives, even if you don’t hit the fairway always. Just need it up there.”
Adri Arnaus: “Really, really pleased with the first two days. A bit scrappy at times but always kept it together in the moment and I was able to finish off in great way, so really happy. I’m just trying to do my best on every hole, and if it turns out that way, great. But yeah, all I’m trying to do is put the ball in a good spot.
“I enjoy this week every time. It’s a big tournament for me. I’m staying at home and I have friends over and family and at the end, the environment was great and it’s a fantastic golf course do in enjoyable shape, so an enjoyable week.”
Rory McIlroy: “I think it was, yeah. The first 33 holes were quite average to say the least. Yeah, it was nice to finish with a flourish and at least have some positivity going into the weekend. I obviously got myself a little closer to the leaders. The leaders still have nine holes to play. So I don’t know where I’m going to be going into the weekend, but it’s not as far away as it seemed to be about an hour ago. So that’s a good thing.
“I think it just happened. Hit two lovely shots into 16, and hit a really nice iron shot into 17. And then got lucky at the last. I was trying to go up the left side of the creek, and I ended up going up the right side. It’s one of those ones, you’re in the middle of it, you might miss it one side or the other. Not a great design of the golf ball, but anyways.
“Yeah, and Fitz is obviously making it more difficult for me. I don’t know what the permutations are but as long as he keeps playing well, I’m going to have to play better. It’s a good challenge coming up the last 36 holes, and I at least feel like I’ve still got something to play for here, so I’m excited for that.”