Nicolai Hojgaard hold a two-shot lead at the half-way mark of the DP World Tour Championship
Højgaard takes the lead in Dubai
Ryder Cup player Nicolai Højgaard will take a two-shot lead into the weekend at the DP World Tour Championship after a stunning finish to his second round at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
The Dane arrived at the Earth course on day two in a share of the lead, but back-to-back bogeys saw him stumble and he was still a long way behind despite fighting back to turn in level par. A birdie on the tenth signalled the start of better things, though, and he added two more before finishing birdie-eagle to come home in 30 and sign for a 66 that left him in front at 11 under.
Højgaard has eight top tens in the 2023 season – including a runner-up finish at last week’s Nedbank Golf Challenge – with three top fives in his last four DP World Tour starts. The 22-year-old also has a runner-up finish on the PGA TOUR, with his form earning him a captain’s pick from Luke Donald for Europe’s Ryder Cup victory over the United States last month.
Speaking after his round, Højgaard said: “I would like to play the front nine a little bit better on the weekend. But I’m very, very satisfied with how I’m playing these two rounds. I trust my game at the moment. It’s been a little bit shaky at times this year, but I feel like we’re on track at the moment. I feel like I’ve got confidence in my shots, the selections of shots, the game plan we’ve put in place every round. I feel like a win is the only thing I missed this season. There’s a lot of really good players in this field I know that are going to be in the hunt the next few days, so I’m going to keep grinding as much as I can and putt myself around, hopefully, and we’ll see on Sunday.
Højgaard’s Ryder Cup team-mates Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland are in a tie for second at nine under par after rounds of 66, and they sit alongside Jens Dantorp, Antione Rozner and Thriston Lawrence, with the latter firing a best-of-the-day 64.
Race to Dubai champion Rory McIlroy is already 10 shots off the pace, and languishing in a share of 34th, after signing for a 72 to go with his first round 71. The five-time European money list winner dropped fired three birdies and three bogeys and will requires some fireworks on Saturday if he is to get back into contention to win the season’s final event.