Defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick opened up a one-shot lead on day two of the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, as the battle to win the Race to Dubai title intensified at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
A brilliant birdie on the last handed Fitzpatrick a second consecutive 67 and a ten-under-par total, with Justin Rose looking to be one shot back and maintaining top spot in the projected Race to Dubai Rankings presented by Rolex, heading into the weekend.
But a closing bogey from the 2013 US Open champion dropped him to eight-under, and Tommy Fleetwood – who had earlier fired an excellent 65 – moved back into pole position for the Harry Vardon trophy at the eighth Rolex Series event of the season.
Tyrrell Hatton’s brilliant 63 earlier in the day moved him to nine-under, a shot ahead of Rose, Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Julian Suri.
Paul Dunne, Scott Hend, Søren Kjeldsen, Jon Rahm and Patrick Reed were then at seven-under, one ahead of Fleetwood, Alexander Björk, Dean Burmester and Ryan Fox.
Fleetwood began the week 256,737 points ahead of Rose at the top of the Rankings, but a 73 on Thursday, coupled with a 66 from Rose, dropped him out of the top position he had held for most of the season.
His 65 represented a fantastic response, but with Rose posting a 70, there was still all to play for heading into the weekend. If Rose does not finish in the top five this week, then Fleetwood is guaranteed to be crowned Europe’s Number One.
Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, is bidding to become only the second player to successfully defend this title after Henrik Stenson won it in 2013 and 2014.
Dean Burmester is the best-placed of the seven South Africans at -6, with Dylan Frittelli one shot further back.