Dubai: Sergio Garcia and Francesco Molinari shared the lead at nine-under par after day two of the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates’ Earth Course on Friday.
It had looked destined to be a three-way tie for first, but day one leader Lee Westwood bogeyed the 18th to drop down to eight under.
Both Garcia and Molinari added identical 67s to opening 68s.
Garcia got three birdies on either nine but was setback by a bogey on 13.
“It’s good to be out there with a chance,” said the Spanish World No. 15, who hasn’t won in Europe since the 2014 Qatar Masters. The 36-year-old sits 20th in the Race to Dubai after four top five and seven top 10 finishes in 12 appearances this season.
“I’m excited about it, it’s the last tournament of the year. I just want to make sure that I keep playing the same way.
“We’re probably going to have to finish below 16-under par [to win] I’m guessing, so unless it gets really windy I’m going to have to keep hitting good shots and making good putts.”
Molinari also hit three birdies on either nine with the three on his return all in a row from 14 onwards, but it was a bogey on 10 that denied him an outright lead.
“It’s very early obviously, but it’s nice to keep building with good round after good round,” said the Italian, who is 36th in the world and 24th in the Race to Dubai with one win and three top 10s in seven outings this season.
“At this stage it is just about doing the same and hopefully I’ll get a similar result tomorrow.”
England’s Westwood was right up there with Garcia and Molinari adding three birdies to his opening score of 66, but he hit a water hazard at the last to leave him on 70 for the day.
“Somebody clicked a camera on the right hand side and it put me off,” said Westwood, who won the inaugural event and Race to Dubai double here back in 2009. “It happens, I just have to regroup.
“I’m still one off the lead and have a good chance. I’m happy with the way I’m playing and I’m trying to finish the season off strongly.”
Elsewhere, England’s Tyrrell Hatton shares a four-way tie for fourth at seven under with Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger, South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel and Holland’s Joost Luiten.
The 25-year-old added a 66 to an opening 71, and said he’s been buoyed by his first win on tour at last month’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
“Just having the confidence that I can win [makes a difference],” he said. “I just want to take that confidence and hopefully have a good weekend.
“I’ve been watching these guys since I was a kid, so to be playing in the same tournament as them is a little bit surreal. But this is my third year on tour now and I’ve done well in big events before and now I’ve won, so I’m comfortable out there.”