Sebastian Heisele felt right at home as he took charge of the first-round lead at the Ras Al khaiman Championship alongside Scotland’s Scott Jamieson on Thursday.
The former Dubai resident knows this course well and has picked up titles here in the past. The German struck an impressive seven-under par 65 at Al Hamra Golf Club, Ras Al Khaimah on the DP World Tour - the third leg of an unmatched four-event swing. The 33-year-old Heisele had a blemish-free card with seven birdies, having started on hole one.
He picked up strokes on holes 5, 7 and 8, saw him out in 33 and a back nine of 32 included birdies on holes 11, 12, 14 and 17.
After a tough 2021 he had his thyroid removed, Heisle was back in the swing in familiar territory after returning to the game as a “touring golf professional not an amateur” last year, in his words.
“In the 2021 Dubai Desert Classic something hit me after two rounds and then I lost my focus for a few months,” he said. “I had all my organs checked and the results came back all OK, but I knew something was not quite right. I knew I had nodules on my thyroid and I was told by the specialists, that later in life, I will probably have to have them removed sometime, so I had an operation in mid-October.”
Heisele had a break from the game which he said was just what he needed.
“I was raised in Dubai from 1988-2005 and I am always comfortable in the UAE. I was a member of Emirates Golf Club during that time and have won the Men’s Club Championship on multiple occasions.
“I changed my coach, clubs, balls, bag - pretty much everything - at the end of last year and this has revitalised my game, and I have worked on a few new things with my coach that have made a difference.
“I did not play in the last two Rolex Series events in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, so it has been a pleasant surprise to return a score of 65 today.
“I have practised well over the last few days and my mood is good. I have played in the Challenge Tour at Al Hamra Golf Club twice, so I am familiar with the golf course. The pins were Sunday pins today, which will limit the scoring potential.”
While gunning for glory at the Championship this week, Heisele will play in next week’s Ras Al Khaimah Classic at the same venue at Al Hamra Golf Club.
After flirting with the title at the $8 mllion Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship at Yas Links and also being in the mix last week in Dubai a the season’s second Relox Series event at Emirates Golf Club, Jamieson is continuing his sparkling early season form, with a bogey-free 65.
Johannes Veerman and Brandon Stone are in a group tied for third alongside Thomas Detry and David Law on six-under. Matthew Southgate are a stroke further back on five-under.