Sport - Golf - Ivan Cantero Gutierrez
Ivan Cantero Gutierrez Image Credit: Harry Grimshaw, Gulf News

Ivan Cantero Gutierrez carded two eagles on his way to a five under par opening round of 67 to take a one shot lead after day one of the UAE Challenge at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club.

The Spaniard had to contend with blustery conditions on the Arabian Gulf, but a birdie on the ninth - his final hole – will see him take a one stroke lead into day two ahead of Ireland’s Conor Purcell and South African Brandon Stone, who share second place.

The 27-year-old has registered two top 20 finishes in his last two appearances on the Road to Mallorca, and after finishing tied second at the Abu Dhabi Challenge last week, he’s playing with confidence.

“I’ve worked really hard in the last few weeks at home,” he said. “I’m more confident with my game. My driving is pretty good and my putting has been great. When you have confidence, scoring is easier.

“I’m feeling great. I played really solid golf in conditions that are really tough. I hit a lot of drivers and my second shots were six or five irons.

“The course is in amazing condition. I’m really happy with my game, and hopefully it’s the same tomorrow.”

Sport - Golf - Ivan Cantero Gutierrez
Ivan Cantero Gutierrez currently leads in Abu Dhabi Image Credit: Harry Grimshaw, Gulf News

Cantero Gutierrez started his round on the tenth hole and was four under par at the turn thanks to two eagles, one of which came on his opening hole. With the wind set to drop tomorrow, he’s hoping for more scoring opportunities on day two.

“It felt really good to start with an eagle on the first hole,” he said. “I hit my driver to three metres, so it made it easier as I started well.

“I think tomorrow the course is going to be a bit easier. I think it’ll be easier to have a good score tomorrow morning, but this is golf. I’ll just try to have a good score.”

Suspended due to darkness

Ten players share fourth place at three under par, including Road to Mallorca Number One Ugo Coussaud, Duncan Taylor Black Bull Challenge winner Om Prakash Chouhan and Scotland’s Daniel Young, who still has one hole left of his opening round as play was suspended due to darkness.

Round one will resume at 7:45am local time, while Cantero Gutierrez will get his second round under way at 8.15am alongside Englishman Pavan Sagoo and Belgian Alan de Bondt.