Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 16 December 2019

DP World Tour Championship: Tommy Fleetwood now leads the Race for Dubai

The 2017 European No 1, who triumphed last week in South Africa, fires a 68 at Jumeirah Golf Estates on Friday

Tommy Fleetwood has leapfrogged Bernd Wiesberger in the sprint for the Order of Merit. Getty
Tommy Fleetwood has leapfrogged Bernd Wiesberger in the sprint for the Order of Merit. Getty

Up to second in the DP World Tour Championship, Tommy Fleetwood sits now in prime position in the Race to Dubai.

The 2017 European No 1, who triumphed last week in South Africa, fired a 68 around the Earth course on Friday, carrying him to 9-under par and to top spot in the seasonal standings.

With 36 holes to go in the campaign, he has leapfrogged Bernd Wiesberger in the sprint for the Order of Merit. The Austrian, meanwhile, finds himself tied-13th in Dubai following a second-round 71.

A win – Fleetwood is three back from halfway leader Mike Lorenzo-Vera – or even solo second at Jumeirah Golf Estates could be enough. Focus, though is being preached.

“It's just a classic case, really, of trying to stay in the moment and each shot as it comes,” said Fleetwood, who mixed seven birdies with three bogeys. “There's a lot going on over the weekend. There's a lot of different scenarios and players in the mix.

“So the more internally focused you can be and the more you can just stay in your bubble ... it will just be a great challenge going into the weekend trying to do that.”

Those scenarios include the large and looming Jon Rahm. One of five players who came into the week in Race to Dubai contention, the Spaniard could also nab the title with victory this week.

He has previous, too, having won the event on debut two years ago. On Friday, Rahm eagled the last for a 69 that drew him level with Fleetwood. His approach to 18 felt eerily similar to Rory McIlroy "shot of the year" the previous day. He's a great guy to mimic.

“I was jealous of Rory yesterday so I tried to copy that,” Rahm joked. "I actually had quite some doubts. It was 236 metres to the pin, 245 to cover the water on the left side. The wind came in from the right. It had to be a perfect 5-wood to get all the way there.

“I decided to be brave on that one and hit as hard a 5-wood as I could hit and it came out. I could not have hit a better shot.”

Courage could be the word for the weekend for Wiesberger. Despite failing to break 70 for the second successive day, the world No 24 has history still in his sights: he is bidding to become the first from his country to be crowned European No 1.

If it looks like Wiesberger may be feeling the pressure – understandably – he wasn’t going to concede to that. Anyway, he has won three times on tour this season, two of which heightened Rolex Series events, and last week posted a tied-3rd in another, the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa.

I played so well in the big tournaments when I was in position, that I feel quite comfortable regardless what's thrown at me,” Wiesberger said. “We have so many good players out here all capable of being in my position.

Just cherish being the one who has to be tried to be hunted down. Try to do the best we can and enjoy it as much as we can.

“As I've said, you don't know how many times you get in a position, and when you are, it's a great feeling. So hopefully we get to finish the season stronger with another couple of good rounds and we'll see what happens then.”

Of the other two Race to Dubai contenders coming into the tournament, Shane Lowry found water on the 18th for a 68 to sit alongside Wiesberger in T-13th, while Matt Fitzpatrick is one stroke back in T-17th following a 71 that matched his first-round effort.

Updated: November 22, 2019 06:18 PM

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