Dubai: After his flawless opening 64, overnight leader Rory McIlroy saw the notorious course bite back during his second round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. The Northern Irishman dropped three strokes in two holes — the fourth and fifth — followed by two more bogies on 10 and 13 and now sits in a share for second on seven-under par alongside France’s Romain Langasque, with four holes still to play. Australian Jason Scrivener and Thailand’s brilliantly named Jazz Janewattananond are also on seven-under, with both players managing to complete their rounds.
The one man who capitalised on McIlroy’s blip was England’s Tyrrell Hatton, who was a cool five-under par in blustery conditions after 13 holes in his second round — five strokes clear on 12-under — when the action was called off for the day due to a lack of light. A knock-on from the three-hour fog delay on Day 1 meant they are still playing catch up, but plan to get back on schedule by the end of Saturday’s play.
An eagle on the second hole set Hatton on his way before he gave one stroke back straight away on the third. However that did not knock him off his stride and a string of four consecutive birdies from seven to 10 saw him cut loose from the rest of the pack.
Scotland’s Marc Warren surged up the field with a solid 66 to take him into a share of sixth spot. He is in a hefty pack on six-under alongside — deep breath — two-time winner Tommy Fleetwood, American David Lipsky, Swede Kristoffer Broberg, Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti, England’s Matt Wallace, ‘local’ lad Rafa Cabrera Bello, who resides in Dubai, fellow Spaniard Nacho Elvira, Finland’s Mikko Korhonen and Aussie Lucas Herbert.
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Defending champion Lee Westwood had a disappointing finish to his day with dropped shots on 13 and 14 before the horn blew to end the day’s play, leaving him in a share of 24th position.
World No. 3 Justin Thomas staged a recovery of sorts after his opening 73, to claw his way to one-under, with four holes still to play in his second round alongside McIlroy and Westwood on Saturday morning. He still has a lot of work to get into contention, but may have done just enough to at least make the weekend as he sits on the projected cutline score.
Following his tremendous day, Hatton said: “I’m obviously in a great position at the moment. It was certainly tough out there, so I’m really happy to be five under. I holed some nice putts and there were a couple of par putts towards the end of my round - nice to hold them and keep a bit of momentum going.”
Speaking about the prospect of a long day on Saturday, Hatton added: “It will be fine. I’ll just try and stay loose and see how we go.”
Fleetwood, who was three-over after 11 holes on Friday, then nine-nine under for the rest of his first 36, reflected on his change in fortunes. “I just slept on it.” he said before coming out on Friday morning to complete his delayed first round. “That clearly made a difference. Yesterday I walked off and sat there and had a chat in the evening with my coaches. I realised I was trying to force things. I had a great start on 12 (from his remaining holes of his first round) today and kept going. It was a much better day.”
1 Tyrrell Hatton (ENG) -12 through 13 holes
2= Rory McIlroy (NIR) -7 through 14 holes
2= Romain Langasque (FRA) -7 through 16 holes
2= Jazz Janewattananond (THA) -7 round completed
2= Jason Scrivener (AUS) -7 round completed
6= Marc Warren (SCO) -6 round completed
6= Tommy Fleetwood (ENG) -6 round completed
6= David Lipsky (USA) -6 round completed
6= Kristoffer Broberg (SWE) -6 round completed
6= Fabrizio Zanotti (PAR) -6 through 13 holes
6= Matt Wallace (ENG) -6 through 12 holes
6= Rafa Cabrera Bello (ESP) -6 through 10 holes
6= Nacho Elvira (ESP) -6 through 8 holes
6= Mikko Korhonen (FIN) -6 through 11 holes
6= Lucas Herbert (AUS) -6 through 10 holes