Matt Fitzpatrick’s quick start propelled him to the top of the Race to Dubai standings, while Rory McIlroy attempts to gain ground in the first round of the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.

On Thursday, Fitzpatrick shot his lowest round ever on the Earth Course, where he has already won twice. He started the round with five consecutive birdies and finished with a score of 7 under par, bogey free.

The winner of the U.S. Open was tied for the lead with Tyrrell Hatton, who started on the 13th hole with a run of four consecutive birdies but finished with his lone bogey on the par-5 18th hole.

McIlroy is currently in the lead for the Race to Dubai as he strives to become the leading player on the DP World Tour for the fourth time in his career. However, he needed a birdie on the 18th in order to get under par and finish with a score of 71, which tied him for 22nd place. Ryan Fox, who is now in second place behind Rory McIlroy in the points table, only managed a score of 73 and is tied for 33rd place.

If McIlroy or Fox don’t come in second place at the DP World Tour Championship, Fitzpatrick will be the first player to win the Race to Dubai if he wins the DP World Tour Championship for the third time. As long as McIlroy doesn’t place worse than seventh, Fitzpatrick will consider his performance a success even if he comes in second place.

Fitzpatrick reported that he was playing despite having “a terrible sore throat,” but he was able to maintain a good sense of humor with his caddie following his early run of birdies.

The Englishman thought the morning got off to a good start and said as much. “The most important accomplishment that I’m very happy with is just making it onto 17 greens. And the one I didn’t catch, I was a total and utter idiot.”

McIlroy had four birdies in his first eight holes, but he was unable to get anything going on the back nine and ended up giving away a cheap stroke when he three-putted for bogey on the 16th hole, making it his fourth overall.

“Absolutely not what I had wished for,” McIlroy remarked. “Just started to start driving the ball a little bit sideways on the back nine… It was a relief to birdie the last hole and finish the round with a score that was lower than par. But obviously I’ve had three weeks off since THE CJ CUP, so I’m just sort of trying to knock the rust off a little bit. “

McIlroy, who is now ranked first, is attempting to become the first golfer to win both the FedEx Cup and the Race to Dubai in the same year. He has previously triumphed in both competitions three times. 2015 was the year he won the Race to Dubai for the third time, having previously done so in 2012 and 2014.

Tommy Fleetwood, Viktor Hovland, Shane Lowry, and Adrian Meronk are the other four players that have a remote possibility of overtaking Rory McIlroy in the overall rankings.

Out of those, Fleetwood shot the lowest score in the first round, a 68.

Following the completion of a late run of birdies by Hatton, which was capped off with a 64-foot downhill putt on the 16th hole, it appeared as though Hatton might seize the lead by himself.

It was both a hit and a hope, “Hatton commented on the shot at that time. “To sink a putt from that far away and on that kind of slope requires an extraordinary amount of good fortune. There were a few occasions throughout the day in which I did have some good fortune, and it was certainly a welcome break.

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