Hatton in 'great position' as he surges past McIlroy

By Sports Desk January 22, 2021

Tyrrell Hatton acknowledged he had put himself in a great position for glory at the Abu Dhabi Championship as he surged past overnight leader Rory McIlroy. 

Round two will have to be completed on Saturday after bad light caused a suspension of play a day after fog had impacted the opening round. 

But Englishman Hatton was an impressive five under par for the 13 holes he was able to play, surging on to 12 under for the tournament. 

That gave him a five-shot advantage over a group of four players, including McIlroy, at the Rolex Series event. 

Jason Scrivener, Jazz Janewattananond and Romain Langasque are with McIlroy at seven under. 

"I'm obviously in a great position at the moment," said Hatton. "It was certainly tough out there, so I'm really happy to be five under [for the round]. 

"I held some nice putts and there were a couple of par putts towards the end of my round - nice to hold them and keep a bit of momentum going. 

"It [a long day on Saturday] will be fine. I'll just try and stay loose and see how we go."

Hatton, with his short game thriving, eagled the second hole and then immediately gave one of those shots back at the third. 

But four straight birdies between holes seven and 10 provided him with a commanding lead. 

McIlroy had started the day with a one-shot advantage at eight under and quickly improved to 10 under through three holes. 

However, the Northern Irishman fell apart from there with three bogeys and a double bogey in the 10 holes that followed before the suspension of play gave him some respite after 13. 

Tommy Fleetwood was able to complete his round, an impressive five-under 67 moving him to within a shot of McIlroy as part of a five-man group sitting at six under. 

World number three Justin Thomas, in the spotlight after a controversy over his use of a homophobic slur at the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii earlier this month, fared better than he did on day one. 

The American was two under through 14 holes when play was brought to an end, improving to one under for the week but still 11 shots adrift of Hatton. 

Reigning champion Lee Westwood is three under in a tie for 24th position.

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