Lorenzo-Vera stays hot in Dubai as McIlroy comes down to earth
Lowry in fine form for first 15 holes only to suffer late blips with three-putt bogey on 16th and closing bogey on 18th
Rory McIlroy and France’s Mike Lorenzo-Vera on the 18th hole during the second round of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. Photograph: David Cannon/Getty Images
What a difference a day can make, as Rory McIlroy discovered in the second round of the DP World Tour Championship on The Earth course in Dubai. It was as if the world number two was cast as a Jekyll and Hyde character, his near-perfection of the opening round replaced by an error-prone follow-up that saw him add a 74 to his 64 for a midway total of 138, six-under, that left him six shots adrift of leader Mike Lorenzo-Vera.
While McIlroy was left to rue one of his black Friday sort of days, there was also disappointment for Shane Lowry, still in the hunt for the Race to Dubai order of merit title, who made a real upward move in his second round when getting to six-under through 14 holes only to stumble coming in with a three-putt bogey on the 16th and a closing bogey on the 18th where he put his approach into water in signing for a 68 for three-under par 141.
A change in wind direction made for a tougher test on the Greg Norman-designed course, with Frenchman Lorenzo-Vera – fighting off the effects of a lung infection – claiming the 36-holes lead with a 69 for a 12-under-par 132 to claim a three stroke lead over Jon Rahm, back playing following a six-week late-season break, and the in-form Tommy Fleetwood.
For McIlroy it was a round that contrasted hugely with his efforts of the previous day. Where the putts on Thursday dropped repeatedly, those in the second round found a way to skim the edges; almost like that old anecdote of someone putting cellophane over the tin cup!
“I didn’t quite have it,” admitted McIlroy. “It wasn’t quite there. The wind was tricky and the course played a little trickier. It’s a very fickle game. I’ve always said that one day it can seem very easy and someone up there says, ‘no, not so fast’, and brings you back down to earth. That’s golf.
“I battled through it. I’m still in with a shout to have a go at winning this tournament. I just need to stick the head down over the weekend and get in there and try and shoot a couple of good scores.”
Lowry’s round was sublime for 15 holes as he played beautifully tee-to-green and claimed birdies at the opening three holes and then added further birdies at the 10th and 11th only to suffer those late blips coming in. The British Open champion reached the midpoint in tied-13th and will have order of merit leader Bernd Wiesberger as company for the third round.
The Race to Dubai title is out of reach of Lorenzo-Vera regardless of what he manages over the weekend, but the 34-year-old Frenchman – still searching for a maiden European Tour win in his 15th season as a professional – remains the frontrunner in the quest to claim the $3 million winner’s cheque.
Lorenzo-Vera was five-under on his round through 14 holes, but his driver deserted him over the final stretch of holes, pushing one tee shot right on the 15th and then pulling his drive left on the 18th and ultimately three-putting on reaching the green as he ran up bogeys.
Paired with an out-of-sorts McIlroy in the final pairing, Lorenzo-Vera claimed that the chest illness which was initially diagnosed in Sun City last week did not affect him too much apart from a lack of energy.
“The lungs are good, it’s just the energy is down totally. I’m trying to sleep as much as I can, and trying to recover on that. Actually I’m happy to not have fallen to something strange with Rory, [that you] try to over-play and that was dangerous to do that today, and I didn’t do it. So that’s what I’m really proud of mostly today.”
Stay in the moment
Fleetwood jumped into contention for the Race to Dubai order of merit with his win in Sun City last week and is seeking back-to-back wins.
“It’s just a classic case, really, of trying to stay in the moment and take 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... 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,” said the Englishman.
Rahm overcame early-round difficulties to finish strongly in signing for a 69 to join Fleetwood on the 135 mark. The highpoint of the Spaniard’s round was an eagle on the 18th, where he hit a 5-wood approach from 270 yards and rolled in the short putt.
“The wind came in from the right. It had to be a perfect 5-wood to get all the way there, it could potentially go in the water, and for a 3-wood long right or long left is not a good spot to be on that hole. So I decided to be brave on that one and hit as hard a 5-wood as I could hit. I could not have hit a better shot.”
Collated second round scores and totals in the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai
(Irish and British unless stated, par 72):
132 Mike Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 63 69
135 Jon Rahm (Esp) 66 69, Tommy Fleetwood 67 68
137 Tom Lewis 67 70
138 Rory McIlroy 64 74, Christiaan Bezuidenhout (Rsa) 71 67, Thomas Pieters (Bel) 70 68
139 Marcus Kinhult (Swe) 68 71, Justin Rose 69 70
140 Adri Arnaus (Esp) 70 70, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa) 70 70, Thomas Detry (Bel) 69 71
141 Shane Lowry 73 68, Danny Willett 69 72, Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Esp) 68 73, Bernd Wiesberger (Aut) 70 71
142 Matthias Schwab (Aut) 69 73, Matthew Fitzpatrick 71 71, Patrick Reed (USA) 74 68
143 Jason Scrivener (Aus) 71 72, David Lipsky (USA) 72 71, Guido Migliozzi (Ita) 73 70, Erik Van Rooyen (Rsa) 71 72, Richard Sterne (Rsa) 71 72, Lee Westwood 73 70
144 Andy Sullivan 70 74, Matt Wallace 70 74, Sergio Garcia (Esp) 71 73, Benjamin Hebert (Fra) 70 74, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 74 70, Aaron Rai 75 69
145 Francesco Molinari (Ita) 69 76, Joost Luiten (Ned) 74 71, Robert Macintyre 71 74, Jorge Campillo (Esp) 73 72, Romain Langasque (Fra) 71 74
146 Haotong Li (Chn) 69 77, Kurt Kitayama (USA) 71 75, Justin Harding (Rsa) 73 73, Paul Casey 73 73, Victor Perez (Fra) 73 73, Matthew Southgate 75 71
147 Joachim B. Hansen (Den) 74 73, Jordan Smith 74 73
148 Paul Waring 71 77, Mikko Korhonen (Fin) 72 76
150 Ian Poulter 74 76
151 Scott Hend (Aus) 76 75, Andrea Pavan (Ita) 77 74
152 Tyrrell Hatton 73 79