Matt Fitzpatrick leads the race to become Europe’s no.1 after carding an opening 65 at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

The 28-year-old started the opening day of the season’s finale with five consecutive birdies, making two further gains in a bogey-free round as he bids to win this event for the third time. He is joined by Ryder Cup teammate Tyrrell Hatton, on seven under par at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Hatton set the early clubhouse lead after carding eight birdies and dropping just one shot as he seeks a first win since his victory at the 2021 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

The pair sit one stroke ahead of Ryder Cup teammate Alex Noren, after the Swede fired a six under par round of 66. Spaniard Adri Arnaus is one stroke further back on five under par.

Fitzpatrick is now projected to finish at the top of the DP World Tour rankings after Rory McIlroy and Ryan Fox carded opening rounds of 71 and 73 respectively.

Fitzpatrick, who was delighted with his fast start, said: “It was a nice start to the day. I remember when I won this event in 2020 that I started with four birdies on the bounce, so get to five in a row was amazing and hope it provides some sort of omen. I think the most pleasing thing about today’s round was hitting 17 greens in regulation. I kept giving myself chances and I putted well as well.”

Hatton, who entered the tournament in 21st place in the DP World Tour points list and 29th in the world rankings, said: “Obviously it was a good day. I hit a lot of good shots and the putter was great, so I’m pretty happy with that start. Although my head’s a bit fried at the moment, as I dropped a shot at the last, which is never a good way to finish. It would be great to finish off the season on a high note, as apart from that good finish at Bay Hill, there really hasn’t been too much to get excited about to be honest. I think I’ve only missed two cuts this year, and had seven or eight top-10s, but I feel like I’ve been consistently very, very average this year.”

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