Golf

Tommy Fleetwood in contention after superb Abu Dhabi fightback

Tommy Fleetwood remains in the hunt for a third Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship victory after an impressive fightback at the Rolex Series event.

Fleetwood was three over par after 10 holes and 11 strokes off the pace when play was suspended due to bad light on the opening day, following a three-hour fog delay, only to battle back on Friday and pull himself into contention.

The two-time Abu Dhabi champion made the most of the calm morning conditions to salvage an opening-round 71 before posting a bogey-free 67 under a strengthening breeze to jump up the leaderboard and get to six under.

“I tried to force a few golf shots playing in the wind, tried too hard to hit good golf shots and didn’t do the things that we work on,” Fleetwood said about his opening-day display. “Missed some putts, hit a few bad wedges and it was an all-round bad ten holes.

“Today, I did things a lot better. Did what we discussed in my golf swing and drove it really, really well there this afternoon and that made such a big difference in the wind. I hit some great irons, holed out really well and didn’t really give anything away, so it was a much better day.”

The Englishman holed a five-footer to save par on the 11th – his opening shot of the morning – and fired his tee shot to four feet to pick up a shot at the par-three next, before following a 10-foot birdie at the 15th with back-to-back gains over his closing two holes to get back under par.

Fleetwood birdied two of the first three holes of his second round and added a tap-in at the par-five 18th to reach the turn in 33, with the world No 19 then rolling in a 10-footer at the second and adding another at the ninth – his final hole – to close out a blemish-free day.

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Speaking about the putt on the 11th hole, Fleetwood added: “I looked at it, looked at Finno [caddie Ian Finnis] and we both thought we’ll cut our losses, save it and come back tomorrow. That was probably the best thing we did, really.

“I’ll be honest, probably wasn’t going to go in last night, I have a feeling I might have missed it! Slept on it, hit a good one this morning and stiffed it on 12 and got playing again and got going.”

Fleetwood’s margin off the halfway lead is still yet to be determined, with the knock-on effect of Thursday’s weather delay meaning the afternoon starters will have to return on Saturday morning to complete their second rounds.

Jason Scrivener set the 36-hole target at seven under after two birdies over the last three holes saw him card a second-round 70, only for Jazz Janewattananond to join him after rounds of 68 and 69.

Fleetwood is alongside Marc Warren, David Lipsky and Kristoffer Broberg a shot behind the clubhouse leaders, while Matt Southgate parachuted to five under after a round-of-the-day 65.

Watch the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship throughout the weekend live on Sky Sports. Live coverage continues on Saturday from 8am on Sky Sports Golf.

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