Abu Dhabi - Henrik Stenson started his new season in the same dominant fashion
that helped him become the European number one in 2016, shooting a
bogey-free eight-under par 64 to take a two-shot lead on Thursday in the
$2.7 million Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
The Swedish world number
four was one of the early starters, paired with reigning US Open and
Masters champions Dustin Johnson and Danny Willett, and made full use of
the calm conditions and a receptive golf course to record eight
Germany's Martin Kaymer - the most successful player in
the history of the tournament with three wins - was among a group of
four players tied for second place at six-under par 66.
Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Scotland's Marc Warren and England's Oliver Fisher were the other players alongside Kaymer.
Tyrrell Hatton also made a bright start with a five-under par 67. He
was joined there by in-form Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Frenchman
Julien Quesne and England's Tommy Fleetwood.
Stenson, who has played all 11 previous editions of the tournament and
holds the course record of 62, began in brilliant fashion covering his
first nine holes in six-under par.
He then made six consecutive pars on his back nine, before finishing with two birdies in the last three holes.
be the lack of practice that does it ... lack of sleep, lack of
practice," said Stenson, who arrived in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday after being
voted Swedish Male Athlete of the Year.
"I'm delighted with that
score. I think I scored a bit better than what I played, but I kept it
under control somewhat and hit a couple of close iron shots and made the
"It seems like whatever I did at the back end of last
year, seemed to be working still. If you finish off playing pretty good
like I did in the Bahamas in Tiger's Hero World Challenge (finished
second), there's nothing that says you can't pick it up where you left
Kaymer, winner in 2008, 2009 and 2011, started with two
birdies in his first two holes, and even though he matched Stenson for
number of birdies, the two-time major champion also made two bogeys.
satisfied Kaymer said: "Some golf courses, you need to work hard to
shoot 4- or 5-under par. This golf course, for me, doesn't feel like I
need to do a lot of special things in order to play well, because I
usually putt well on these greens.
"It doesn't feel like a
hard-working day. I just like a lot of the tee shots. They really suit
my eye, and again, if you are making putts, you do score well."
World number three Johnson and compatriot and defending champion Rickie Fowler both endured a slow start and were even-par 72.
Willett, who made a triple bogey seven on the 14th hole, started with a 74.
First-round scores of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship at the National course of Abu Dhabi Golf Club on Thursday (par 72):
64 - Henrik Stenson (SWE)
66 - Martin Kaymer (GER), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA), Marc Warren (SCO), Oliver Fisher (ENG),
67 - Tyrrell Hatton (ENG), Julien Quesne (FRA), Rafa Cabrera-Bello (ESP), Tommy Fleetwood (ENG)
- Jordan L Smith (ENG), Branden Grace (RSA), Paul Dunne (IRL), Gregory
Havret (FRA), Thomas Bjorn (DEN), Callum Shinkwin (ENG), Jason Scrivener
(AUS), Bradley Dredge (WAL), Shiv Shankar Prasad Chawrasia (IND), Lee
Westwood (ENG), Bernd Wieberger (AUT), Pablo Larrazabal (ESP), Wang
Jeung-hun (KOR), Mikko Korhonen (FIN), David Lipsky (USA), Peter Hanson
(SWE), Lee Slattery (ENG)
69 - Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG), Richie
Ramsay (SCO), An Byeong-hun (KOR), Anthony Wall (ENG), Thorbjorn Olesen
(DEN), Alexander Bjork (SWE), Ryan Fox (AUS), Ian Poulter (ENG), Ross
Fisher (ENG), Gary Stal (FRA), Dean Burmester (RSA)
70 - Niclas
Fasth (SWE), George Coetzee (RSA), Felipe Aguilar (CHI), David Drysdale
(SCO), Alexander Knappe (GER), Jamie Donaldson (WAL), Nacho Alvira
(ESP), Andy Sullivan (ENG), Maximilian Kieffer (GER), Robert Karlsson
(SWE), Alvaro Quiros (ESP), Tom Lewis (ENG), Peter Uihlein (USA)
71 - Alex Noren (SWE)
72 - Rickie Fowler (USA), Dustin Johnson (USA), Joost Luiten (NED), Thongchai Jaidee (THA),
73 - Nicolas Colsaerts (BEL), Paul Lawrie (SCO), Thomas Pieters (BEL),
74 - Danny Willett (ENG)