Mike Lorenzo-Vera extended his one shot overnight advantage to hold a three stroke lead over Race to Dubai rivals Tommy Fleetwood and Jon Rahm at the halfway mark of the European Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
The Frenchman, who played alongside World Number Two Rory McIlroy, opened his second round with back-to-back birdies on his way to carding a three under par round of 69 in the eighth and final Rolex Series event of 2019. He had briefly held a five shot lead on the back nine after his sixth birdie of the day on the 14th hole, but while the 34 year old dropped shots on the 15th and 18th holes to finish on 12 under par at Jumeirah Golf Estates, he remains in pole position to win the $3million first prize – the richest in tournament golf.
Ryder Cup players Fleetwood and Rahm, both of whom are bidding to overhaul Race to Dubai leader Bernd Wiesberger, are both on nine under par after respective rounds of 68 and 69.
Rahm had double bogeyed the eighth hole and was two over par heading to the ninth tee, but the Spaniard birdied that hole and picked up four more shots on the back nine, including an eagle on the last, to share second place with Fleetwood, who posted his seventh birdie of the day on the final hole.
Austrian Wiesberger carded 17 pars and just the solitary birdie on the 11th hole for a round of 71. He lies nine shots off the pace in a four-way tie for 13th position on three under par, meaning that as it stands, Fleetwood, who won last week’s Rolex Series event, the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, would win the Race to Dubai.
Four-time Major Champion McIlroy double bogeyed the sixth hole in his two over par round of 74, but the Northern Irishman remains a threat six shots back in a share of fifth place on six under par, with the DP World Tour Championship, the Rolex Series and the Race to Dubai all set for a fascinating finale this weekend.
“I’m very pleased. Managed to hit the ball where I wanted to more or less. It was tricky and the wind was blowing pretty solid. In the end, it’s a solid end. The last three are tough, I think. So the game was solid. I hit some really pure shots and holed a few momentums.
“I’ve played with him a few times in competition and I struggled with him in the beginning because I was trying to over play. That was the game plan today. Don’t look at him. He’s going to hit bombs. He’s going to hit incredible iron shots sky high and stuff, and that’s not my game. Actually, I wasn’t too far from him all day long, so I was pretty happy about that.
“It’s just the game. I’ve got a three shot lead and it’s better than three shots behind. Just going to be stressful because it’s big dogs behind me that are going to try to bite me, so it’s going to be interesting.”
“Good day. Played really, really well. Stayed very patient. Felt like I did a really good job after the fourth of just playing really good, solid golf. It wasn’t easy today. The wind really picked up. I think anything under par would have been a really solid day, so four under, I’m happy with.
“It’s just a classic case really of trying to stay in the moment and each shot as it comes. There’s a lot going on over the weekend. There’s a lot of different scenarios and players in the mix.
There’s a lot of things going on around you, 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.”
“It did not look good. The only reason why I wasn’t in a better position was my putter, I felt odd all day. I missed quite a few short putts early on, first hole and seven, and then a little mishap on eight. I was still feeling good. I knew I was hitting it good and I knew the course was going to be a little tougher on that stretch of 12, 13 on the back nine. I knew if I could make a few birdies, catch up to the lead.
“Adam (Rahm’s caddie) and I agreed, we were walking down on nine and just said, “let’s get to even par before 14, and then 14 through 18, some birdie holes try to catch up”, and that was the mission. Made a great birdie on nine and kept trying with a lot of good putts, a lot of good tries.”
“I played so well in the big tournaments when I was in position, that I feel quite comfortable regardless what’s thrown at me. We have so many good players out here all capable of being in my position. Just cherish being the one who has 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.”
Round two scores
132 M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 63 69,
135 T Fleetwood (Eng) 67 68, J Rahm (Esp) 66 69,
137 T Lewis (Eng) 67 70,
138 T Pieters (Bel) 70 68, R McIlroy (Nir) 64 74, C Bezuidenhout (RSA) 71 67,
139 J Rose (Eng) 69 70, M Kinhult (Swe) 68 71,
140 T Detry (Bel) 69 71, A Arnaus (Esp) 70 70, L Oosthuizen (RSA) 70 70,
141 D Willett (Eng) 69 72, R Cabrera Bello (Esp) 68 73, S Lowry (Irl) 73 68, B Wiesberger (Aut) 70 71,
142 P Reed (USA) 74 68, M Schwab (Aut) 69 73, M Fitzpatrick (Eng) 71 71,
143 L Westwood (Eng) 73 70, D Lipsky (USA) 72 71, G Migliozzi (Ita) 73 70, R Sterne (RSA) 71 72, E Van Rooyen (RSA) 71 72, J Scrivener (Aus) 71 72,
144 S Garcia (Esp) 71 73, A Rai (Eng) 75 69, A Sullivan (Eng) 70 74, H Stenson (Swe) 74 70, M Wallace (Eng) 70 74, B Hebert (Fra) 70 74,
145 J Campillo (Esp) 73 72, F Molinari (Ita) 69 76, R Macintyre (Sco) 71 74, J Luiten (Ned) 74 71, R Langasque (Fra) 71 74,
146 M Southgate (Eng) 75 71, K Kitayama (USA) 71 75, H Li (Chn) 69 77, V Perez (Fra) 73 73, P Casey (Eng) 73 73, J Harding (RSA) 73 73,
147 J Hansen (Den) 74 73, J Smith (Eng) 74 73,
148 M Korhonen (Fin) 72 76, P Waring (Eng) 71 77,
150 I Poulter (Eng) 74 76,
151 A Pavan (Ita) 77 74, S Hend (Aus) 76 75,
152 T Hatton (Eng) 73 79,