Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship News

Francesco Laporta shoots a superb 63

Francesco Laporta birdied his last five holes (shooting 63) to leap to the top of the leaderboard after round two of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

The Italian Francesco Laporta secured his playing rights after topping the European Challenge Tour’s Road to Mallorca Rankings, and he displayed the form that saw him win twice in three weeks last season as he went bogey-free to get to ten under par going into the weekend at the first Rolex Series event of the 2020 Race to Dubai.

Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick had set the target at nine under par – without dropping a shot in his last 36 holes – and it looked as if he would be the man to beat, before Rolex Series winner Rafa Cabrera Bello of Spain made four birdies on the back nine to join him.

But Laporta went one better, recording the lowest round of the week – and his lowest of the season so far after missed cuts in his opening two events – to overtake the Ryder Cup team mates.

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Major winner Sergio Garcia and Italy’s Renato Paratore are two shots off the lead at eight under par, while World Number Six Patrick Cantlay, his fellow American Kurt Kitayama, Spaniard Adri Arnaus, 2010 Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen and former World Number One Lee Westwood are at seven under par.

Player quotes

Francesco Laporta: “I played solid all 18 holes. My putting was solid, my driver, my irons. I gave myself a lot of opportunity for birdies, and so when I had the opportunities, I took it. Every time I was putting for birdie, I made it. It was a great day.

“Feeling good. On the Challenge Tour I got more opportunity to play, so that was good. I didn’t start the season good. I missed the cut in South Africa two times, and this is the third event and I’m leading, so I just want to enjoy the weekend.”

Rafa Cabrera Bello: “Very pleased obviously for posting another very good score. My game got better throughout the day, and I played good golf. I made some really, really good putts that gave me great momentum, but then I also hit some good shots that gave myself opportunities. I’ve been doing things good and I’m having that little bit of luck that you always need.

“I’ve pretty much done what I do every off-season. I had some time off, I enjoyed it and took my mind off golf, and then I practiced hard at the beginning of the year and preparing myself for these weeks. It hasn’t been anything particularly different than other years.

“I played better on the back nine, primarily because those two huge putts made the biggest difference, but I mean, we’ve played here before. We know almost every kind of wind that can happen here, and we want it to be calm but we kind of know that in the afternoons, the wind tends to pick up, and we just have to feel lucky that on the front nine, it wasn’t so windy.

Matthew Fitzpatrick: “For the first week of the year to have no bogeys, couldn’t ask for a better start. Just played really disciplined golf and it’s worked out well so far.

“I took it easy as soon as I finished in Dubai, slowly started to build it up and then two weeks ago really into it. Got ready for the start of the year. But when we went to play nine holes on Tuesday, I felt a little bit uncomfortable. All felt sort of new again after seven weeks off, and then as the round went on, I got into it again.

“For me every event is the same. You’re here to win. It’s always a nice bonus, playing for more money and more Ryder Cup points, but you’ve got to go in with the same attitude.”

Round two scores:
134 F Laporta (Ita) 71 63,
135 R Cabrera Bello (Esp) 67 68, M Fitzpatrick (Eng) 68 67,
136 S Garcia (Esp) 67 69, H Li (Chn) 67 69, R Paratore (Ita) 64 72,
137 L Westwood (Eng) 69 68, K Kitayama (USA) 67 70, P Cantlay (USA) 71 66, L Oosthuizen (RSA) 69 68, A Arnaus (Esp) 70 67,
138 D Law (Sco) 70 68, J Luiten (Ned) 70 68, L Herbert (Aus) 69 69, B Wiesberger (Aut) 69 69, Z Lombard (RSA) 67 71, T Pieters (Bel) 68 70,
139 S Soderberg (Swe) 75 64, S Hend (Aus) 69 70, N Elvira (Esp) 72 67, T Detry (Bel) 69 70, Z Murray (Aus) 67 72, Y Lin (am) (Chn) 69 70,
140 B Grace (RSA) 68 72, M Schwab (Aut) 74 66, J Lagergren (Swe) 75 65, J Singh Brar (Eng) 70 70, J Scrivener (Aus) 66 74, H Porteous (RSA) 69 71, R Ramsay (Sco) 71 69, S Kjeldsen (Den) 70 70, V Perez (Fra) 70 70, M Kawamura (Jpn) 69 71, A Sullivan (Eng) 69 71,
141 S Norris (RSA) 64 77, E Van Rooyen (RSA) 73 68, R Fisher (Eng) 70 71, M Kaymer (Ger) 68 73, D Drysdale (Sco) 70 71, E Molinari (Ita) 68 73, T Fleetwood (Eng) 71 70, B Koepka (USA) 66 75, A Chesters (Eng) 72 69, M Pavon (Fra) 71 70, N Colsaerts (Bel) 69 72, S Sharma (Ind) 71 70, O Fisher (Eng) 71 70, M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 68 73, R Langasque (Fra) 70 71, J Senior (Eng) 71 70,
142 S Crocker (USA) 72 70, J Smith (Eng) 74 68, P Waring (Eng) 71 71, D Lipsky (USA) 73 69, G Forrest (Sco) 74 68, D Howell (Eng) 70 72, W Ormsby (Aus) 71 71, T Bjørn (Den) 71 71, J Harding (RSA) 69 73, S Horsfield (Eng) 73 69,
143 J Winther (Den) 73 70, S Heisele (Ger) 70 73, C Bezuidenhout (RSA) 71 72, V Dubuisson (Fra) 70 73, B Stone (RSA) 71 72, A Björk (Swe) 73 70, J Walters (RSA) 73 70, G Green (Mas) 73 70, J Campillo (Esp) 71 72, S Jamieson (Sco) 71 72, A Johnston (Eng) 69 74, M Wallace (Eng) 73 70, K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 70 73,
144 R Bland (Eng) 69 75, M Korhonen (Fin) 70 74, A Levy (Fra) 71 73, T Jaidee (Tha) 70 74, G Coetzee (RSA) 72 72, S Brown (Eng) 73 71, S Lowry (Irl) 70 74, C Hill (Sco) 71 73, L Gagli (Ita) 73 71, V Hovland (Nor) 73 71, R Sterne (RSA) 74 70, R Rock (Eng) 69 75, C Paisley (Eng) 73 71, G Migliozzi (Ita) 71 73,
145 C Schwartzel (RSA) 72 73, R Kakko (Fin) 72 73, R Fox (Nzl) 74 71, R Jacquelin (Fra) 68 77,
146 A Otaegui (Esp) 73 73, F Zanotti (Par) 75 71, R McEvoy (Eng) 71 75, D Burmester (RSA) 73 73, J Morrison (Eng) 71 75, T Aiken (RSA) 76 70, T Pulkkanen (Fin) 72 74, S Gallacher (Sco) 74 72, J Guerrier (Fra) 74 72, T Lewis (Eng) 75 71, M Southgate (Eng) 70 76, M Armitage (Eng) 77 69, D Willett (Eng) 71 75,
147 N Bertasio (Ita) 74 73, I Poulter (Eng) 73 74, E Pepperell (Eng) 73 74, J Wang (Kor) 71 76, J Donaldson (Wal) 75 72, A Meronk (Pol) 74 73,
148 P Larrazábal (Esp) 74 74, P Harrington (Irl) 76 72, A Pavan (Ita) 74 74,
149 R Højgaard (Den) 77 72, R Karlsson (Swe) 77 72, B Dechambeau (USA) 72 77,
150 C Shinkwin (Eng) 74 76, B Hebert (Fra) 77 73, M Kieffer (Ger) 76 74, A Quiros (Esp) 77 73, J Hill (am) (Eng) 74 76,
151 D Horsey (Eng) 75 76, A Wu (Chn) 77 74,
152 A Rai (Eng) 78 74, P Lawrie (Sco) 78 74,
153 G Bhullar (Ind) 79 74, J Hansen (Den) 80 73, K Samooja (Fin) 72 81,
154 G Storm (Eng) 76 78,
157 O Wilson (Eng) 76 81,
159 C Wood (Eng) 84 75,
169 A Skaik (am) (Uae) 84 85,

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