Hatton holds 5-shot lead at season-opener in Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Tyrrell Hatton moved five shots ahead of Rory McIlroy on Friday in the second round of the season-opening Abu Dhabi Championship.

The Englishman eagled the second hole and later added four consecutive birdies before play was halted because of fading light after his tee shot on the 14th. He was at 12 under overall when play was stopped.

McIlroy, at 7 under overall and 1 over on the day, birdied the first and third holes but double-bogeyed the par-4 fifth to go with three other bogeys.

The second round will restart Saturday morning with McIlroy and Romain Langasque tied for second with finishers Jason Scrivener (70) and Jazz Janewattananond (69).

Defending champion Lee Westwood is nine strokes off the lead. Like McIlroy, he has four holes to play in the second round.

Hatton’s only blemish was a bogey on the third hole. He entered the round trailing McIlroy by a stroke.

“I’m obviously in a great position at the moment,” Hatton said. “It was certainly tough out there, so I’m really happy to be 5 under. 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.”

Abu Dhabi has been a story of near misses for McIlroy. In 10 appearances, he has finished second on four occasions and third three times. Apart from one missed cut, he has only one finish outside the top 10 — tied for 11th place in 2008 in his first appearance.

Tommy Fleetwood (67) bounced back from a rough first round and is among a large group that is 6 under.

“Drove it really really well this afternoon, and that makes such a big difference in the wind,” he said. “Today’s given me a lot of confidence.”

Justin Thomas is 11 strokes behind in his first event since Ralph Lauren ended its sponsorship deal with him following a homophobic slur he muttered to himself after missing a putt in the recent Sentry Tournament of Champions.

The Abu Dhabi Championship begins a run of three events in the “Gulf Swing” — the Dubai Desert Classic and the Saudi International come next.

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