Tyrrell Hatton has been cut into 8/11 favouritism for the European Tour’s opening tournament of 2021 after he pulled five shots clear in the Abu Dhabi Championship before bad light suspended play early.

The world number nine carded an eagle – his third of the week – along with four other birdies and just the one bogey, as he moved on to -12 for the tournament after 13 holes of his second round, for which he is five-under-par so far and will complete on Saturday.

Hatton insists though that he didn’t find conditions easy on Friday but is delighted to have been able to manoeuvre himself into such a strong position as he looks to secure his fourth Rolex Series title following victories at the 2017 Italian Open, the 2019 Turkish Airlines Open and the 2020 BMW PGA Championship.

Hatton said: “I’m obviously in a great position at the moment. It was certainly tough out there, so I’m really happy to be five under.

“I held some nice putts and there were a couple of par putts towards the end of my round – nice to hold them and keep a bit of momentum going.”

Overnight leader Rory McIlroy (10/3 – Outright) endured a mixed round on Friday although, like Hatton, he could still improve it with holes left to play on Saturday.

Although he found four birdies on Friday, McIlroy also suffered a double bogey and three further dropped shots as he was one-over-par through his completed 14 holes, falling back to -7, alongside Jason Scrivener and Jazz Janewattananond, as well as Romain Langasque, who has two holes left to play in his second round.

Tommy Fleetwood (16/1 – Outright) managed to put his opening-round struggles behind him with a fine 67, while David Lipsky went one better with a 66, as the pair are alongside eight others in a tie for sixth at -6, six shots off the lead.

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