Thursday, February 02, 2017

Garcia leads Dubai Desert Classic with a 65 as

Tiger toils to a 77

Sergio Garcia, pictured above by courtesy of Getty Images(c), took advantage of the calm morning conditions to take a one-shot lead on day one of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
The Spaniard fired a brilliant opening 65 - his lowest ever in a tournament in which he has played seven times previously - to get to seven under and lead the way from Chile's Felipe Aguilar and South African George Coetzee, with vastly increased winds stopping the later starters from mounting a challenge.
Ian Poulter was then in the group at five under alongside Nino Bertasio, Nacho Elvira and David Lipsky but it was a day to forget for 14-time Major Championship winner Tiger Woods.
The American drew huge crowds at Emirates Golf Club but struggled to a five-over-par 77, which was summed up when his approach with a wedge into the 18th found the water for one of his five bogeys.
Garcia's last European Tour victory came on the Desert Swing at the 2014 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters and he is once again making himself at home in the Middle East.
The Spaniard made birdies on the tenth and 12th before an excellent tee-shot allowed him to birdie the 17th and he took advantage of the par five next.
Another birdie followed on the second before the 37 year old produced the shot of the day on the par five third, putting his second shot to four feet and setting up an eagle.
His tee-shot on the fourth looked certain to set up another gain but he missed a short putt before bouncing back with a birdie on the fifth that put him three shots clear. A dropped shot on the eighth then took the gloss off the round.
"It was a nice way to start," he said. "A good, solid round.
"It was getting a little bit tasty there at the end, the last five, six holes. So it was nice to be able to get it in on a good score. Tomorrow is supposed to be a tough day so we'll see.
"I think there were a lot of good positives out there. I played quite nicely, hit some really nice shots and made some really nice putts here and there. So overall, I was very happy with it. I felt like I was quite committed for pretty much every shot I hit.
"The passion, it's always there and it's easy to keep up. Doing what we love and being as blessed as we are, being able to do it fairly well, it's a great thing. So obviously the passion is easy to maintain."
Coetzee recovered from a bogey on the first with birdies on the third, fourth, eighth, tenth, 13th, 16th and 17th in his 66, while Aguilar was bogey-free with gains on the third, fourth, seventh, 11th, 13th and 16th.
American Lipsky made a quick start to his round with four birdies and added three more on the back nine to go alongside two bogeys.
England's Poulter, Italian Bertasio and Spaniard Elvira all had a single dropped shot in their rounds of 67.
Dubai-based Indian amateur Rayhan Thomas fired a 68 that put him in some elite company at the age of 17, with Open champion Henrik Stenson, 2010 US Open champion Graeme McDowell, Spaniard Jorge Campillo and New Zealander Ryan Fox all at four under.
Defending champion Danny Willett began his week with a one under par 71.
Play was suspended due to darkness at 17.51hr local time with six players on the 17th tee, the best of those being Robert Karlsson at one under.
SCOTSWATCH: Only two of the six Scots in the field - Scott Jamieson (69 for T13) and Paul Lawrie (70 for T25) - got under the par of 72. Stephen Gallacher matched it for a share of 59th place but Richie Ramsay (73 for T76), David Drysdale (75 for T102) and Marc Warren (78 for T126) were all above par.
Jamieson had a bogey-free round, highlighted by birdies at the second, third and 10th in halves of 33-36.
Lawrie had a bag of five birdies (first, third, ninth, 10th and 11th) but he dropped shots at the sixth, eighth and 16th in halves of 34 and 36.

par 72
65 S Garcia (Spn)
66 F Aguilar (Chile), G Coetzee (SAf).
67 N Bertasio (Ita), I Poulter (Eng), D Lipsky (USA), N Elvira (Spn).

68 G McDowell (NIre), H Stenson (Swe) (T8)
69 S Jamieson (Sco) (T13)
70 P Lawrie (Sco) (T25)
72 S Gallacher (Sco) (T59)
73 R Ramsay (Sco) (T76)
75 D Drysdale (Sco) (T102)
78 M Warren (Sco) (T78).

Field of 132 players






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