Al Ain: Stephen Dodd and William Harrold shot matching rounds of seven-under-par 64 to share the new course record on the opening day of the Mena Tour Championship at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club on Monday.
Both went bogey-free to move one shot clear of Wales’ Craig Smith in windy conditions for golf, which saw 25 players sign off with under-par scores.
The Scottish duo of Callum Nicoll and Duncan Stewart headed the chasing pack, a further two shots adrift at four under, along with England’s Alex Christie and Dan Waite and Faycal Serghini of Morocco.
Dodd couldn’t have asked for a better start that kept up his bid for back-to-back titles on the Tour. “I think I played really well. There are plenty of scoring opportunities out there.
“My round could have been a little better, but then I am very happy to be in this position. There is still plenty of golf to be played, but I am pretty satisfied with the way I am driving the ball. I think I did a lot of good things out there,” added Dodd, a three-time winner on the European Tour.
The 46-year-old Welshman, currently placed second on the Order of Merit for Professionals behind England’s Zane Scotland, needs to finish strongly if he aims to win the title of Mena Golf Tour number one.
Dodd’s playing partner for the day, Scotland, however, stumbled to one-over 72 and would require something special to track down Dodd over the next two days.
“I just didn’t strike the ball well and there was hardly any rhythm in my game,” said Scotland, who is $3,637 (Dh13,347) ahead of Dodd in the Order of Merit standings.
England’s Harrold felt staying cool on the course did the trick for him. “The course is playable. If you can keep the ball in play, you can come out with a good score,” said Harrold, who made a blazing start to his round, reeling off three birdies in a row.
“It was a very good day. Once I got going, I didn’t miss many shots. I hit my irons solid and when I hit them close, I made the putt,” said the Englishman.
In the amateur division, Max Williams kept alive his chances of winning the Order of Merit title with a 71, a round he later described as “awful”.
“I didn’t play well at all, especially on the front nine. I managed to pick up four birdies, two in each half, but overall it was a bad in the office. Simple as that,” said the Englishman, who currently leads the Order of Merit table with 136 points, a good 14 points ahead of nearest challenger Michael Harradine of Switzerland.