Hatton opens up commanding lead in the HSBC Championship in Abu Dhabi

Tyrrell Hatton opens up a commanding lead in the weather-affected HSBC Championship in Abu Dhabi… as Rory McIlroy fails to build on brilliant start

  • Tyrrell Hatton holds a five-stroke lead over four players currently tied in second
  • The Englishman is -12 after two rounds of the HSBC Championship in Abu Dhabi
  • Rory McIlroy faltered, on a day where darkness meant play was suspended early

Twenty minutes apart, the European Tour’s social media team put out two tweets on Friday about the marvellous enigma that is Tyrrell Hatton. 

The first showed him in a mocked up therapy session for angry golfers, and the second was footage of his latest eagle in Abu Dhabi, where he is threatening to pummel the field.

Two sides of the same fascinating coin, but we have long passed the point where Hatton’s achievements are overshadowed by his flares of temper on the course. 

Tyrell Hatton holds a five-stroke lead after two rounds of the HSBC Championship in Abu Dhabi

Englishman could claim his third big win in 14 months with two rounds left over the weekend

His scoring has seen to that, and in the desert there is now a significant chance of him claiming a third big win in 14 months.

By reaching 12 under par through 13 holes of his second round before play was suspended at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, the Englishman holds a five-stroke lead over Rory McIlroy, who sits in a four-way tie for second.

While McIlroy failed to build on excellent opening-day 64 – he was one over through 14 when bad light stopped play – Hatton was imperious. 

Resuming on seven under, one behind McIlroy, he sank his third eagle of the week at the second and then collected four straight birdies from the seventh. His only dropped shot was at the third.

Rory McIlroy failed to build on a terrific opening-day round of 64 and was +1 for the day

It would be worth just shy of £1million to Hatton if he can hold on through Sunday.

‘I’m obviously in a great position at the moment,’ said the world No 9, who drained a six-footer in fading light at the 13th to save par. ‘It was certainly tough out there, so I’m really happy to be five under.

‘I have five holes left to play tomorrow morning and it’s going to be a bit of a long wait potentially if I finish nicely tomorrow morning before I go out for round three. But it will be fine. I’ll just try and stay loose and see how we go.’

Darkness meant play was suspended with the second round not yet fully completed

McIlroy endured a frustrating day after his blemish-free round on Thursday. He started well with birdies at the first and third to go 10 under but failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker to save par at the fourth.

A double-bogey followed at the fifth after he drove into the trees, and further dropped shots at 10 and 13 had the four-time major champion on course for the worst round of any player in the top 30 of the leaderboard. 

Birdie at eight and 14 brought him back to seven under and he will resume with a 20-foot birdie opportunity on 15 on Saturday morning. A bogey-free 67 lifted Tommy Fleetwood to six under, alongside Matt Wallace, who has six holes still to play of his second round.

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