The English pair of Matt Fitzpatrick and Tyrrell Hatton both shot seven under par 65’s to lead after the first round of the season ending $10 million DP World Tour Championship, Dubai at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
On an unseasonably warm day with very little breeze, Hatton set the early pace with an eight birdies through 16 holes, but a bogey six on the 651 yards par five home hole dropped him back to seven under par.
Fitzpatrick, in the penultimate group of the day playing alongside Tommy Fleetwood (Eng), had the hottest start of all with five birdies in a row from the opening hole and made further birdies on holes eight and 14 with no bogeys to shoot his lowest ever round over the Earth course.
After his round the two-time DP World Tour Championship winner with three other top-ten finishes from seven visits said, ‘I putted well today and I was so pleased to hit 17 of 18 greens in regulation and I should not have missed the other one. I gave myself a lot of birdie chances. The way it is playing makes sure you have to hit one shot at a time, you have to be on the ball, and the course is playing difficult with the rough when you miss the fairway, tougher than in previous years, and around the greens is especially challenging and it is only going to get firmer as the week progresses.’
Alex Noren (Swe) is in third on 66, and Dubai based Adri Arnaus finished in solo fourth on five under, with Tommy Fleetwood, Rasmus Højgaard (Den), Yannik Paul (Ger), Callum Shinkwin (Eng) and Kurt Kitayama (US) one stroke further back.
With the current standings after round one, and with Rory McIlroy (NI) shooting a one under par 71, Fitzpatrick overtakes both Ryan Fox (NZ) who shot 73, and McIlroy in the projected season long DP World Tour Rankings.
McIlroy struggled with his driver, especially on his back nine with tee shots going left, and had a back nine of 37 to lie in tied 22nd with three rounds to play.
28 players from the field of 50 beat par in today’s round one.
Fitzpatrick and Hatton are paired tomorrow (Friday) in the second round teeing off at 12.45 pm.
McIlroy will tee it up at 10.25 am alongside Dubai based Adrian Otaegui (Spain) who matched McIlroy’s 71. All play will be from the first tee with a first tee time of 8.30 am..