Fitzpatrick birdied the first five holes and then finished with a 7-under 65 on Thursday. This was his lowest round on Earth Course, where Fitzpatrick is a two-time winner.
The U.S. Open champion was tied with Tyrrell HattonHe made four consecutive birdies starting at the 13th hole and finished with a bogey on 18th, par-5.
McIlroy leads Race to Dubai standings. He is trying to be the European tours top player for the fourth consecutive time in his career. However, McIlroy needed a birdie to get under par with a score of 71 to tie him for 22nd. Ryan FoxMcIlroy is second in points table, and McIlroy is third. McIlroy managed a 73 to tie for 33rd.
Fitzpatrick could win his first Race to Dubai title by winning the third World Tour Championship. This is provided McIlroy, Fox and the other competitors dont finish second. Fitzpatrick could finish in second place, provided McIlroy finishes higher than seventh.
Fitzpatrick stated that he was having trouble swallowing, but that he was laughing at his caddie after he had made his first birdies.
The Englishman stated, It was an enjoyable start to the day. Just hitting 17 greens is the biggest thing that I am so happy about. I was a total idiot to miss the one I did.
McIlroy birdied four out of his eight first holes, but couldnt get going on the back nine. McIlroy also gave away a bad shot when he three-putted for a fourth bogey on 16th.
McIlroy stated, Certainly not what was hoped for. Just started to drive the ball a little crooked on nine back. It was nice birdieing the last to shoot under par. But Ive been off for three weeks since the CJ Cup so Im just trying to shake off the rust.
McIlroy is the top-ranked player and hopes to win the FedExCup in Dubai and Race to Dubai in the same calendar year. He has won each event on three occasions. His last Race to Dubai title was in 2015. He also won it in 2012, 2014, and 2015.
Hatton looked poised to take the lead after his 64-foot downhill putt on 16th, which capped his late run of birdies.
Hatton described that shot as hit and hope . Obviously, to holing a putt that far down a tier is like that, you need a lot luck. There were a few times today when I was lucky, and that was definitely a nice break.