David Law struck out early at the Ras Al Khaimah Championship on Friday, with the Scotsman opening up an impressive advantage at the top of the leader board in the inaugural DP World Tour $2 million event at Al Hamra Golf Club.
The Scotsman has a solitary DP World Tour title to his name after getting his card back in 2018 — the 2019 ISPS Handa Victorian Open in Australia — but is looking good to become the first ever winner of the RAK Championship after stretching his lead to five strokes at one point. The last time a Scotsman had managed to lead by five or more strokes on a DP World Tour event was way back in 1996, when Colin Montgomerie — also in the RAK field this week — won the European Masters.
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Law followed up his opening 66 with a storming 64 on Friday, a round that included five birdies and two eagles, to set a clubhouse target of 14-under.
While he held the lead throughout the day, one of Denmark’s tenacious brothers ran him close as the expected afternoon wind failed to appear and some of the late scorers went low.
Nicolai Hojgaard — one half of the Danish twins turning it on during the DP World Tour alongside brother Rasmus — took full advantage of the calm conditions to post a 65 to sit in second position on his own, thanks to eight birdies and a bogey. Nicolai is clear in second on 12-under, two behind Law and two clear of Spain’s Adrian Otaegui — who hit a course record 63. Oliver Bekker, Jordan Smith and Brandon Stone are tied on fourth spot.
“I chipped in twice for two eagles so that was picking up four shots straight away which was great,” said Law. “I played good, yesterday was tricky, today as a little different. It was a different golf course today, but I rode my luck a little, chipping in twice, but I was happy.
“It’s been a while since the win. This is my fourth season on tour. I had a chance at St Andrews last year to win and I felt very comfortable again in that position. I feel like my golf has progressed nicely in the last three years and that’s the main aim, that’s all anyone’s trying to do – to keep improving.”
Hojgaard added: “It was a good day, I played some nice golf, felt like I was driving it a bit better than I have for the last couple of weeks so I put myself in some good spots to hit it close to the pins. After those last two weeks, I put in some good work. I felt like my thoughts and swing were a bit blocked up, I couldn’t free up so I’ve just been trying to free up a little bit, play golf with my skills and let my talent take over instead of trying to overthink things.”
Spain’s Otaegui said: “Yesterday I holed some good putts, today I holed some good ones as well. I think the difference today was that I felt a lot more comfortable with my driving.
"I tried to just keep it going, keep giving myself birdie chances. I was feeling confident with my putting, I was rolling the ball very well, so nothing really special in my mind. Just the basics, keep going and I think we did that very well.”
A clutch of players are just a stroke further back, including Round 1 leader Sebastian Heisele, and flying Finn Tapio Pulkkanen.
Nicolai’s brother Rasmus stayed in the hunt on seven-under alongside a host of title contenders including Ross Fisher, John Catlin, JB Hansen and George Coetzee.
But the day certainly belonged to trailblazing Law, and he will be out in the leading group on Saturday afternoon.
Some of the big names failing to make it to the weekend include Sweden’s Alexander Bjork, Scotland’s Richie Ramsay, European Tour legend Miguel Angel Jimenez, Dubai Desert Classic runner-up Richard Bland, veterans Monty and Thomas Bjorn, plus Bernd Wiesberger and Ryder Cupper Nicolas Colsaerts — illustrating just how tough the field is this week in RAK.
With 36 more hole to go, more moments of drama are guaranteed.