DP Dubai champ Matthew Fitzpatrick has 'nothing to lose' but plays to win

Matthew Fitzpatrick of England plays a shot during the second round of the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai on November 17, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / KARIM SAHIB (Photo credit should read KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images) KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images

DP Dubai champ Matthew Fitzpatrick has 'nothing to lose' but plays to win

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DP Dubai champ Matthew Fitzpatrick has 'nothing to lose' but plays to win

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – A strange case of déjà vu surrounds the $8 million DP World Tour Championship, Dubai with 36 holes to play.

Defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick is one shot ahead of Tyrrell Hatton, just as he was at the conclusion of last year’s tournament.

Fitzpatrick took the 36-hole lead with a 20-foot birdie putt on the last hole to move to 10 under. Hatton shot a 9-under 63 that could have been better if not for a bogey at the 18th. That’s exactly how last year’s tournament unfolded: Fitzpatrick birdied while Hatton made six.

Fitzpatrick, 23, is looking to defend a title for the first time. He’s relishing being a sideshow in the bigger drama this week: the battle between Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Rose to win the Race to Dubai.

Fitzpatrick made five birdies, an eagle and only dropped two shots to add his second consecutive 67. Hatton, 26, was one shot off matching the course record Rose set in 2012.

“I’ve got nothing to lose,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’m not trying to win The Race to Dubai unfortunately.

“The main focus in on Tommy and Justin and I can sneak under the radar.

“I know what I’m capable of, what I’ve done before around here. It was amazing last year and to do it this would would be even better. 

“I did win last year, and that probably gives me a little bit more confidence than everyone else. Maybe apart from ‘Rosey’ because he’s won the last two starts.”

Hatton needs to learn to play the par-5 18th if he’s to have any chance of atoning for last year.

“If you said at the start of the day I would shoot 9 under, I would be over the moon,” Hatton said. “Pretty bitter pill to swallow on 18. That hole seems to hate me. Hopefully one day I’ll actually play it well.”

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