Fleetwood, Tanihara share Abu Dhabi lead

DJ is obviously No 1 player in the world. I'm looking forward to the challenge and we'll see what happens.

"It's a good golf course to hit 18 greens around", Fleetwood said.

After the injury troubles which beset McIlroy's 2017 nobody could reasonably grudge him a few of them. After four second places in this event, the 28-year-old is now favorite with the bookmakers to go on and take victory tomorrow.

The 25-year-old Belgian, who was a star for the European Ryder Cup team in their loss to the USA at Hazeltine, made seven birdies in his bogey-free round of 65 to climb on top of the leaderboard at 12 under par. It's felt like a while since I've won and just to give myself these chances; I gave myself a chance at the end of the year at Close House and wasn't able to do it. Paul Dunne played too well for me. It was a good round of golf.

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Murphy admitted to a small case of the fidgets but he shook them off like a pro.

Fleetwood didn't miss a green in regulation, endorsing his new-found love for a course which once made him grimace.

After the eagle putt, McIlroy yelled, "Finally - one dropped" and punched the air in delight. But I putted really well.

"That proves I'm back to full fitness and 100 percent healthy", he said. I was told I'd have to hit it 150 yards but when I got to the tee, I was told I'd be playing off the same tees as the professionals so I'd to swap club.

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Tommy Fleetwood has the clubhouse lead in Abu Dhabi.

Johnson admitted jet-lag may have been a contributing factor in his disappointing opening round, but he was pleased following a "stress free" second day. Still, even a strong finish that falls short of winning bodes well for McIlroy in his first start of the year. He could sell that for plenty of dirhams on Sunday. On the back nine, he found his composure and birdied 10th and 11th and added another on 18th, just like the first day.

But he somehow dropped nearly an equal number of shots during the course of play, with four bogeys recorded to sign off at two-under 70 for an overall par-5, seven shots behind leader Thomas Pieters.

In the PGA Tour's year-opening Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, the American almost aced a 433-yard par-4 hole en route to winning the champions-only event by a whopping eight shots over Jon Rahm.

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  • Jill Young