Rory McIlroy falters, Tommy Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai lead

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Rory McIlroy falters, Tommy Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai lead

Euro Tour

Rory McIlroy falters, Tommy Fleetwood takes Race to Dubai lead

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The second round of the $8 million DP World Tour Championship, Dubai didn’t go according to plan. Rory McIlroy hasn’t run away with the tournament and Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger is no longer in pole position to finish the season as European No. 1.

After a stellar opening 64, McIlroy began in the final group trailing first round leader Mike Lorenzo-Vera by just a shot. Few would have backed the Frenchman to outplay the World No. 2, but that’s just what Lorenzo-Vera did. By five shots.

The 34-year-old from Biarritz returned a 3-under 69 to move to 12 under and a three-shot lead. McIlroy slumped to a 74 and lies in equal fifth. Fleetwood played the Earth course in 68 shots to lie joint second place with Jon Rahm on 9 under. Fleetwood is now projected to finish above Wiesberger on the Race to Dubai.

DP World Tour Championship, Dubai: Leaderboard

Signs that Rory’s round wouldn’t match his first came at the par-3 sixth when his tee shot found water. He scraped a shot back at the next with a birdie, but then bogeyed the 10th and 13th holes.  A birdie at the 14th helped.

“I obviously didn’t quite have it today,” McIlroy said. “The putts that went in yesterday sort of went over the edges today.

“I didn’t actually know the rough was as bad is it was. I was hitting it in the fairway all week. Then I hit it in the rough today and realized it was a bit more difficult.

“It’s a very fickle game, one day it can seem very easy and then someone up there says ‘not so fast’, and brings you back down to earth. That’s golf. I battled through it and I’m still in with a shout to have a go at winning this tournament.”

Lorenzo-Vera is the stereotypical journeyman. He looked like he could make an impact on the European Tour when he won the 2007 Challenge Tour Order of Merit. However, he’s made four unsuccessful trips to the Qualifying School since then.

Lorenzo-Vera’s best European Tor season came in 2017 when he placed 35th on the Race to Dubai. He’s had three runner-up finishes, including this year’s Estrella Damm NA Andalucia Masters, but he’s still looking for his first European Tour win.

Victory this week would result in a $3 million pay day. The Frenchman knows exactly what he’ll do with the money.

“Last night I was trying to get it out of my head but it did not want to so I accepted and went on to the internet to see what car I’d buy if I won,” he said. “And it would be a Ferrari f12 TdF.”

Wiesberger returned a 1-under 71 and is tied for 13th spot. He is now projected to finish second on the Race to Dubai to Fleetwood, who is seeking to finish a season as European No. 1 for the second time following 2017. He was second to Francesco Molinari last year, and knows what it’s like to run this race.

“I feel very ready at the moment, feel very prepared for the scenarios that get thrown at you,” Fleetwood said. “I’m also very used to it. This is the three years in a row where I’ve been I’m in this situation.

“When I tee off tomorrow, I know what feelings to expect. I have a lot of experience in what to do, so it’s got to help.”

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