Henrik Stenson (pictured by Getty Images) has the halfway lead for a second year in a row at the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai after firing a six under par second round of 66 at Jumeirah Golf Estates
The Swede held a one stroke lead after 36 holes 12 months ago before going on to win the title by six strokes, and he heads into the weekend two clear this time on ten under par, following seven birdies and just a solitary bogey on the fourth hole.
However, the World Number Four has Ryder Cup teammate Rory McIlroy, the World Number One who has already secured victory in The Race to Dubai, hoping to deny him the first successful defence of his career, with the Northern Irishman in a three-way tie for second place on eight under par.
After opening with a 66 of his own, McIlroy ‘grinded out’ his second round of 70, birdieing the first hole but mixing two bogeys with three birdies on the back nine.
Scotland’s Richie Ramsay and Englishman Danny Willett are the other players on eight under par following rounds of 69 and 67 respectively, while Ireland’s Shane Lowry, who shared the overnight lead with McIlroy, also remains in contention a further shot back following a round of 71 which included a hole-in-one with a six iron on the 183 yard 13th hole.
Key player quotes
Henrik Stenson: “There is still a lot of golf to play and I’m really happy with how I closed this round. Around the 12th hole I felt like I was running out of steam. It was difficult mentally from there on and I had to really focus hard and drag myself over the finish line. My putting was the key today. I made some great putts and felt more committed on the lines than yesterday. I came out and under-read a few yesterday in the beginning but managed to dial that in today and hit some solid strokes. So I am pleased with my performance on the greens for sure.”
Rory McIlroy: “I just didn’t quite have it today. I guess you’re going to get rounds like that when you’re coming back from a little bit of a lay off. I felt like I did well to grind out a score which was the main thing. I just need to stick to what I’ve been thinking about during my golf swing and not really second guessing myself or doubting myself at all. But I started to hit some better shots on the back nine and I’m sure tomorrow I’ll hit a few more. The birdies on 14 and 15 were nice. I hit a nice second shot into 16 and just ran the putt a little too far by. It was nice to bounce back on 17 with a birdie and I felt like I hit a really good drive on the last to sort of trundle into the water. It was okay, happy with where I’m at – two behind with 36 holes to go, so there’s a lot of golf left to play.”
Richie Ramsay: “That was really pleasing – 69 is a good score. That nice little eagle on 14 got me going. It was tricky out there at times and the greens were firming up, so you couldn’t go for every flag. You had to be selective about when to be aggressive and when to be patient, and did that well. But the most important thing, for the second day in a row, was that the attitude was really good. I’m really pleased with that and have some good friends and family out there watching, so it was nice to play well while they are out watching.”
Danny Willett: “That was good, playing some good golf. Hit a lot of fairways, quite a few greens. Last hole, hit it all right off the tee. It’s a tricky one off that forward tee, just kind of in the water but to get up and down from 250 yards is always nice. Obviously Saturdays and Sundays always feel that little bit more difficult when you’re up there. I have just got to keep playing good golf and stay patient, that’s the main thing, really. You can’t chase too much on this golf course because a couple little misses here and there can cost you. You just have to stay patient, give yourself chances for birdie, and touch wood, you’ll make a few.”
Complete second round scores (par 72)
134 H Stenson (Swe) 68 66,
136 R Ramsay (Sco) 67 69, D Willett (Eng) 69 67, R McIlroy (Nir) 66 70,
137 S Lowry (Irl) 66 71, K Broberg (Swe) 70 67, T Olesen (Den) 67 70, J Rose (Eng) 71 66, R Cabrera-Bello (Esp) 73 64,
138 T Hatton (Eng) 70 68, D Howell (Eng) 71 67,
139 H Otto (RSA) 71 68, R Karlsson (Swe) 71 68, B Grace (RSA) 72 67, J Luiten (Ned) 70 69, V Dubuisson (Fra) 71 68,
140 G Coetzee (RSA) 70 70, P Larrazábal (Esp) 71 69, D Fichardt (RSA) 72 68, S Gallacher (Sco) 72 68, T Bjørn (Den) 71 69, L Oosthuizen (RSA) 69 71,
141 L Westwood (Eng) 70 71, R Wattel (Fra) 71 70, M Kaymer (Ger) 72 69,
142 B Wiesberger (Aut) 72 70, A Sullivan (Eng) 73 69, F Molinari (Ita) 73 69, G McDowell (Nir) 72 70, E Els (RSA) 75 67, L Donald (Eng) 76 66, M Warren (Sco) 71 71, R Fisher (Eng) 69 73, M Siem (Ger) 76 66, J Donaldson (Wal) 72 70, T Aiken (RSA) 76 66, O Fisher (Eng) 72 70, S Garcia (Esp) 73 69,
143 A Levy (Fra) 71 72, E Molinari (Ita) 69 74, T Fleetwood (Eng) 69 74, C Schwartzel (RSA) 72 71, S Dyson (Eng) 73 70, E Grillo (Arg) 68 75,
144 W Ormsby (Aus) 73 71, T Jaidee (Tha) 72 72, M Jiménez (Esp) 71 73, J Blixt (Swe) 70 74, I Poulter (Eng) 75 69,
145 F Zanotti (Par) 73 72, N Colsaerts (Bel) 73 72, R Sterne (RSA) 71 74, E Pepperell (Eng) 76 69,
146 B Koepka (USA) 78 68,
147 M Manassero (Ita) 75 72, O Wilson (Eng) 75 72,
149 M Baldwin (Eng) 75 74,
150 M Ilonen (Fin) 74 76,
151 M Hoey (Nir) 73 78, D Lipsky (USA) 76 75
Source: European Tour