Matt Fitzpatrick couldn't have started any better than he did Thursday at the 2022 DP World Tour Championship.
How about five straight birdies to begin the day? That's what Fitzpatrick, the 2022 U.S. Open champion, did at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai during the first round. He added another on the eighth hole, going out in 6-under 30. on the back nine, he added another birdie and didn't have any bogeys.
Fitzpatrick carded a 7-under 65 in the first round and is tied with Tyrrell Hatton following the opening 18 holes. Hatton himself had a birdie barrage, his coming on the back nine with four straight from holes No. 13-16. He was at 8 under until a bogey on the closing par 5.
"I was laughing (at the start), to be honest," Fitzpatrick said. "It was a nice start to the day."
Fitzpatrick, who said he's battling a sore throat and dry cough, hit all but one green during the opening round. He has won twice previously at Jumeirah in the DP World Tour Championship. In 2016, he beat Hatton by one shot for the title.
Hatton said his mind is still raging about a bogey on the final hole.
"It is what it is," Hatton said.
The duo on top has a one-shot lead over Alex Noren, who shot 6-under 66 after a strong event in Houston last week on the PGA Tour.
Tommy Fleetwood, who broke a three-year winless drought last week in South Africa, sits T-5 at 4 under. Rory McIlroy, who leads the DP World Tour points standings, shot 1 under and is tied for 22nd.
If Fitzpatrick, who is third in the points race, were to win, McIlroy would need to finish solo second or in a two-way tie for second to win the DP World Tour season-long championship. If Fleetwood wins, McIlroy needs a two-way tie for third or better to win.
Story originally appeared on GolfWeek