Thursday, January 19, 2017

Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Stenson's fast start gives him two-shot lead

Henrik Stenson got the defence of his Race to Dubai title off to a brilliant start with an opening 64 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
The Swede enjoyed a stellar 2016, being crowned Europe's number one for the second time and claiming his first Major Championship at The Open.
He picked up where he left off at Abu Dhabi Golf Club with eight birdies in a bogey-free effort to get to eight under and open up a two-shot lead over three-time Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship winner Martin Kaymer, Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat, England's Oliver Fisher and Scot Marc Warren.
Stenson holds the course record in Abu Dhabi after shooting a 62 in 2006 and while he did not go that low, his brilliant form on day one will have given the rest of the field plenty to worry about.
Other notable names on a packed leaderboard are Europe’s Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjørn and Lee Westwood among the 17-strong group on four under, with Ian Poulter a further shot back. American stars Rickie Fowler – the defending champion this week – and US Open champion Dustin Johnson made a quiet start to the week with a pair of level par 72s.
Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher, meanwhile, began his 500th appearance on The European Tour with a round of one under 71, after which he was presented with a custom-made video book which featured montages of still and moving images from the highlights of his career.
Player Quotes
Henrik Stenson: “I’m delighted with that score. I think I scored a bit better than I played, but I kept it under control somewhat and hit a couple of close iron shots and made the putts. And yeah, it wasn't too much stress out there. I didn’t do a whole lot of practice during the break.
"I was working on my putting, that was the main thing, and some short game but it’s been very limited preparation. So that might be the way forward, I don't know.
“I just want to keep on developing my game and hope that I can sort of continue the success of 2016 into this new year. I need to keep on working and then try to come into the Majors well prepared and well rested and try and put myself in contention.
"I feel like I can get the Claret Jug some company if I do that. I'm certainly going to try my hardest anyway.”
Martin Kaymer: “You never know what you're going to get in the first tournament after such a long break, especially if you only practised a little bit. Your expectations are high, but you don't know how much you will get out of your first tournament.
"I had a very good start. I made a long putt on 10 and that really started the round in a very positive way. I was standing on the seventh tee box and I said to myself, you know, it would be nice to get to four, so maybe if I can pick up one more birdie and I managed three.
“On some golf courses you need to work to shoot four or five under par. The golf course for me doesn't feel like I need to do a lot of special things in order to play well, because I usually putt well on those greens.
"I like a lot of the tee shots too. They really suit my eye, and again, if you are making putts, that's always for us professionals very, very important to see the ball going into the hole.”
Lee Westwood: “Everything was pretty sharp, really, which is quite surprising for me. I haven't done much in the last six, seven weeks since the DP World Tour Championship. I haven't really hit that many balls and only played a couple of rounds so that was pretty good.
“I like the way they set this golf course up. There's penalties for missing fairways, the rough is thicker than other venues we play at and the bunkers are well placed. I think there's a few hole where the really long hitters that can carry it 300, 310 have a big advantage.
"But, all in all, I think it's a pretty fair driving golf course, no matter what distance you hit it. Certainly pays dividends if you can hit a lot of fairways around here.”
Stephen Gallacher: “It’s a great honour to join the 500 club. I have had a quick look through my book and it’s certainly a journey from young to old! It’s cool though and a nice memento of a great milestone. I remember the first event and a lot of the old memories. I remember how tough it was first and foremost but we got there eventually.
“Obviously so much has changed since I started out. When I first came on Tour, there were still guys using persimmon woods. I would say the standard of golf's changed. Back in my early days, it was the same guys winning all the time. But now, if you're in the field, you've got a chance.
"The opportunities we've got now, and the way the Tour has grown is phenomenal. We are still growing and to be part of the latest era with the Rolex Series coming up this year is immense.”
Round one scores
par 72
64 H Stenson (Swe)
66 K Aphibarnrat (Tha); O Fisher  (Eng); M Kaymer (Ger); M Warren (Sco)
67 J Quesne  (Fra); T Hatton (Eng); R Cabrera Bello (Esp); T Fleetwood  (Eng)
68 B Dredge (Wal); B Grace  (SAf); J Scrivener (Aus); C Shinkwin (Eng); B Wiesberger  (Aut); L Slattery (Eng); P Hanson (Swe); J Wang (SKor); G Havret  (Fra); P Larrazábal (Esp); L Westwood (Eng); M Korhonen (Fin); D Lipsky (USA); T Bjørn (Den); J Smith (Eng); P Dunne (Ire); S Chawrasia (Ind)
69 M Fitzpatrick  (Eng); A Björk (Swe); B An (SKor); R Fox (Nzl); I Poulter (Eng); A Wall (Eng); R Ramsay  (Sco); D Burmester (SAf); G Stal  (Fra); R Fisher (Eng); T Olesen (Den)
70 R Karlsson (Swe); F Aguilar (Chi); A Quiros  (Esp); P Uihlein  (USA); D Im (USA); D Drysdale (Sco); M Kieffer (Ger); T Lewis (Eng); G Coetzee (SAf); N Elvira  (Esp); A Sullivan (Eng); N Fasth (Swe); A Knappe (Ger); J Donaldson (Wal)
71 S Brazel (Aus); T Aiken (SAf); S Jamieson  (Sco); S Gallacher (Sco); T Fisher Jnr (SAf); C Paisley  (Eng); D Horsey (Eng); R Langasque  (Fra); R Karlberg  (Swe); P Edberg (Swe); R Jacquelin (Fra); J Van Zyl (SAf); M Ilonen  (Fin); M Pavon (Fra); A Noren  (Swe); B Hebert  (Fra); D Stewart (Sco); K Broberg (Swe); P Peterson (USA); B Rumford (Aus); J Walters (RSA); C Hanson (Eng); G Storm  (Eng)
72 R Fowler  (USA); A Cañizares  (Esp); J Lagergren (Swe); J Luiten (Ned); A Otaegui  (Esp); L Jensen (Den); D Johnson (USA); G Bourdy (Fra); R Wattel  (Fra); E De La Riva  (Esp); R Paratore (Ita); B Ritthammer (Ger); J Carlsson (Swe); T Immelman  (SAf); T Jaidee (Tha); J Campillo (Esp); A Levy (Fra); R Gouveia (Por); C Luck (am) (Aus); R Thomas (am) (Ind)
73 F Zanotti (Par); S Dyson  (Eng); D Howell (Eng); P Lawrie (Sco); M Siem  (Ger); M Lorenzo-Vera  (Fra); N Holman  (Aus); W Ormsby (Aus); D Brooks (Eng); S Walker (Eng); M Southgate  (Eng); T Pieters  (Bel); M Manassero (Ita); L Bjerregaard  (Den); R Rock (Eng); N Colsaerts  (Bel)
74 R Bland (Eng); N Bertasio (Ita); D Willett  (Eng); J Morrison  (Eng); P Waring  (Eng); M Carlsson  (Swe)
75 A Dodt (Aus); S Hend (Aus); S Gros (Fra); D Clarke (NIr); D Fichardt (SAf); S Lee (SKor);
76 C Wood  (Eng); E Pepperell (Eng)
78 H Porteous (SAf)
79 D Frittelli (SAf)

- Ends -



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