DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland and Tommy Fleetwood were in a group of marquee players moving into contention at the season-ending World Tour Championship on Friday.
Rory McIlroy wasn’t among them.
While the No. 2-ranked McIlroy was, in his words, “stuck in neutral” on his way to shooting an even-par 72 in the second round, Rahm, Hovland and Fleetwood all had 66s on the Earth Course to be in a good position heading into the weekend.
Nicolai Hojgaard, a 22-year-old Dane boosted by his recent Ryder Cup experience, had a back nine of 30 containing four birdies and an eagle to shoot 66 and lead on 11-under par, two shots clear of a five-man group including Hovland and Fleetwood.
Rahm was five shots back and happy with his game, though frustrated by a three-putting from 20 feet for bogey at his last hole — No. 9.
McIlroy was languishing on 1 under for the tournament, 10 back and tied for 34th place in a curtailed field of 50 for the last event of the European tour’s 2023 season.
“There is a low one out there,” said McIlroy. “And I’m going to need one to get myself back in the tournament.”