Andy Sullivan equalled the lowest round of his career to open up a two-shot lead after the opening round of the inaugural Golf in Dubai Championship.
Golf in Dubai Championship
Sullivan threatened a ’59 round’ on his way to an 11-under 61 on the Fire Course at Jumeriah Golf Estates, posting 11 birdies in a bogey-free display to set the pace in the first of back-to-back Dubai events.
Matt Wallace is among the closest challengers after recovering from a slow start to card a first-round 63, with Ross Fisher also tied-second alongside Antoine Rozner, while Scottish duo Marc Warren and Craig Howie are in the group three off the pace on eight under.
“This week I turned up and clattered it down and found myself being ridiculous under par through seven or eight holes on my front nine,” Sullivan said. “You think ‘here we go’. I changed my putting routine yesterday and it’s helped me trust my instincts more instead of second guessing myself.”
Beginning on the back nine, Sullivan followed two birdies over his first three holes by picking up a shot at the 15th to start a run of six consecutive gains around the turn and leave the Englishman eight under after just 11 holes.
Back-to-back birdies from the fourth increased the prospect of a ’59 round’, with another at the seventh leaving Sullivan needing to play the last two holes in two under to shoot just the second sub-60 round ever registered on the European Tour.
Sullivan settled for a par at the eighth to leave him requiring a hole-out eagle on his final hole for a history-making round, where he sent his approach from the rough to seven feet and missed the birdie putt.
Wallace was level-par after seven holes but birdied the 17th and eagled the par-five 18th, before starting his second with four birdies in a five-hole stretch and picking up shots at the seventh and ninth.
“With the World Ranking system, playing these next few weeks, I will lose points because I finished second in Dubai two years ago so I might drop down quite a bit,” Wallace said. “So it’s important to have a good result this week. I’m out here to play as well as I can anyway, that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Fisher and Rozner both made an eagle and seven birdies in their blemish-free starts to get to nine under, while Warren birdied six of his last seven holes to close out an eight-under 64 and jump into tied-fifth.
Robert MacIntyre and former world No 1 Martin Kaymer are in the group on two-under, as Bernd Wiesberger – the only player inside the world’s top 50 in action – started the week with a two-under 69.
Watch the Golf in Dubai Championship throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage continues on Friday from 7am and 11am on Sky Sports Golf.
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