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Fitzpatrick leads at the halfway stage

Defending champion says he has the confidence to make it two in a row

Image Credit: AFP
AFPMatthew Fitzpatrick of England plays a shot from the bunker during the second round of the DP World Tour Championship.
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Dubai: Defending champion Matt Fitzpatrick shot a second successive 67 to lead by a stroke at 10 under par at the halfway stage of the DP World Tour Championship on Friday.

The Yorkshire man carded two outward birdies and a bogey before three birdies, an eagle, and a bogey on his return.

“Obviously it’ll be tough, but if I do that I think I’ll have a good chance. It was amazing last year and to do it again this year would be even better I guess. But the plan is just the exact same as the first two days.””
-Matt Fitzpatrick | Defending champion
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Ironically, Tyrrell Hatton, the man who finished second by a stroke to Fitzpatrick at this event last year after bogeying his final hole, is back in the same position after again bogeying his last shot.

This time Hatton was about to equal Justin Rose’s 2012 course record of 10 under 62 before once more erring on his unlucky hole by hitting the bunker with his approach.

A three-man group involving Race to Dubai challenging Rose, Julian Suri and Kiradech Aphibarnrat, are further stroke behind in tied for third.

Day one leader Patrick Reed, who shot seven under 65 on Thursday, is still on that number after following up with a level par 72, to sit three shots behind in a group of five at tied for sixth.

“It’s always nice to get in the mix and obviously being defending champion puts a little extra on it,” said Fitzpatrick, who didn’t lead until the final round at this event last year, where he won at 17 under after rounds of 69, 69, 66, 67.

“I know what I’m capable of, and what I’ve done around this place. So hopefully I can take that into the weekend and play even better golf than I have done over the first two days.

“Obviously it’ll be tough, but if I do that I think I’ll have a good chance. It was amazing last year and to do it again this year would be even better I guess. But the plan is just the exact same as the first two days. Play smart, because things can easily get away from you around here.

“Having won it last year gives me a little more confidence than everyone else. Maybe apart from Rosey, who has won the last two starts,” he said in reference to Race to Dubai challenging Rose.

Rose has dramatically caught up with money-list leader Tommy Fleetwood in recent weeks after back-to-back wins in China and Turkey, before sitting out last week’s event in South Africa to rest and recharge for this season-ending where he has previously finished second twice.

“Plenty of focus has been on Tommy and Justin and that’s fine by me,” added Fitzpatrick. “But if I can sneak under the radar and win that would be great.

“I’m just looking forward to the weekend and delighted I could put myself in this position.”

 

Fact Box

— 10 Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG)

— 9 Tyrrell Hatton (ENG)

— 8 Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA)

Justin Rose (ENG)

Julian Suri (USA)

— 7 Paul Dunne (IRL)

Scott Hend (AUS)

Soren Kjeldsen (DEN)

Jon Rahm (ESP)

Patrick Reed (USA)

— 6 Alexander Bjork (SWE)

Dean Burmester (RSA)

Tommy Fleetwood (ENG)

Ryan Fox (AUS)

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