Dubai - Justin Rose continued his blistering form with a six-under par first
round in Dubai on Thursday as he chased a third straight victory and a
second European Tour crown.
The world No 6 from England, winner of the WGC-HSBC Champions and
Turkish Airlines Open in successive weeks, hit a 66 in the $8
million DP World Tour Championship.
Rose was tied for
second, one shot behind Patrick Reed.
The American fired a bogey-free
65, thus setting himself up for what could be his first win of the
season. Australia’s Scott Hend also shot a 66.
Race to Dubai leader Tommy Fleetwood, the man Rose is trying to
catch, had a poor opening day.
After starting with a double bogey, the
27-year-old Englishman had an inconsistent round and signed for a
one-over par 73 card, tied for the 46th in the 60-man field.
Fleetwood leads the race by 256 737 points. If he does not win, Rose
can claim his second European rankings title by finishing in an untied
second place. A top-five finish could be enough for Rose, depending on
where his younger compatriot ends on Sunday.
The only other player with a distant chance of winning the Race to
Dubai, Masters champion Sergio Garcia, opened with a 70 and was tied for
21st on a low-scoring day at the Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates.
Rose took advantage of the two par-5s on the front nine, but a bogey
on the ninth meant he made the turn at one-under par.
back-to-back birdies on the 10th and 11th, the 37-year-old holed out
from the front bunker on the par-5 14th for an eagle and closed with a
radar-guided approach shot on the 18th that set up a tap-in birdie.
"A lot of good things happened," said Rose, who hit 17 greens in
"I drove the ball well today. The front nine, my iron play
was actually terrible. Even though I didn't miss a green, iron play
wasn't really on song at all. Little things started to really go my way
on the back nine."
"I was happy to be patient no matter what happened today. But also,
conscious that I've won from eight back on the weekends the last two
times, but that’s not really a recipe that you want to continue to
Fleetwood rued a poor start and blamed it on nerves.
"The start was shocking. I gifted the first with the double, should
have made five, at worst, on the second. I was giving shots away early
on," he said.
"It was such an up-and-down day. There was a bit of nerves there.
There's always going to be. I’ve never been in this position before, so a
bit of nerves."
World No 23 Reed, who has been a European Tour member for two
years now, is aiming to win his first title of the year and was
delighted with his start.
"I felt like ball-striking was where it needed to be. I pretty much had control over the golf ball today," said Reed.