A bunched leaderboard in Dubai headlines the DP World Tour Championship filled with storylines
Through two rounds it’s almost anyone’s ballgame at the DP World Tour Championship. The big four of Henrik Stenson (-3), Danny Willett (-3), Alex Noren (-4) and Rory McIlroy (-1) vying for the Race to Dubai title are all under par and not out of the mix, but are locked in a stalemate in terms of usurping Stenson from his top position.
Instead, Francesco Molinari (68-67) and Sergio García (68-67) lead at the top at nine-under. Both have been in fine form of late, particularly Molinari who is going for his second win in four starts and fourth straight top 10.
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Take a look at a few key stats through two rounds and you’ll just about see a mirror image:
Driving accuracy — Both tied for 2nd, 82.1%
Driving distance — García 3rd, 305.3 yards; Molinari 15th, 294.8
Greens in regulation — García 2nd, 86.1%; Molinari 6th 83.3%
Putts per round — Both tied for sixth, 29
By no means is the tournament theirs, though. Any of the four aforementioned golfers at the top of the rankings could still make a move; three were in the 60s on Friday and Willett was the high man with a 70 proving they could be solving the Earth Course at Jumeirah Estates in Dubai.
There is no cut in this 60-player season finale but most would be worthy of playing 36 more holes had there been one.
Fifty golfers are within 10 shots at the halfway mark. Nearest the pair at the top is 18-hole leader, Lee Westwood. The Englishman was bogey-free and in at least a share of the lead throughout the day until a pair of woeful approach shots cost him a stroke and the lead. He came in with two-under 70 to reach eight-under for the tournament.
Four are right in the rearview mirror at seven-under, including Tyrrell Hatton, who carded a Friday 66 for the low round of the week.
Back to the R2D rankings, neither Molinari nor García would even crack the top five with a win. As it stands, the top four would remain unchanged with Stenson crowned the champ. As known entering the week, it will likely take a win and some help for any of the other three to take home the trophy.
Despite scoring better than just two other golfers and sitting at three-over-par in a tie for 53rd, Jeunghun Wang (75-72) is still in line to be the European Tour Rookie of the Year. The 21-year-old South Korean entered the week highest of the four at No. 15 in the R2D rankings, the determinant for the award.
Fortunately for him, his three competitors are all at par or worse so far. Wang is currently projected to finish at No. 18, but Haotong Li (74-70, T43) isn’t far off his scent projected for No. 23. Soomin Lee (71-73, T43) projected No. 41 and Brandon Stone (74-73, T53) No. 54 have a little more work to do.
Finally, some extra cash — five million dollars, to be exact — is on the line for the top 10 RtD finishers (incorrectly identified by yours truly earlier this week as the top 15, which was the case in 2015). As it stands, here’s a breakdown of who is projected to cash an extra check on Sunday.