Tommy Fleetwood shares lead after first round at Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship

David Cooper - Writer 18:28 18/01/2018
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Defending champion Tommy Fleetwood fired a six-under par 66 for a two-way share of first-round lead at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

The Englishman, back at the scene of his win last year, was joined by Hideto Tanihara of Japan at the top of the leaderboard on Thursday.

Another five players are one stroke back, including Fabrizio Zanotti, Ross Fisher, Thomas Pieters, Sam Brazel and Bernd Wiesberger.

Fleetwood said: “(I) played really well from start to finish. Felt like I did what you need to do well around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons, but you can’t really be too greedy all the time.

“Then sort of my pace putting was really good. Just basically did what you need to do to get a good score around the golf course.”

It was at the Abu Dhabi venue last year, where the 26-year-old underlined his class en route to winning the Race to Dubai title.

“I drove it well. Got a way with a couple of tee shots. The rough is actually thick in parts. You think the rough is okay at times but other times it will catch you out,” he said.

Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy got his 2018 campaign off to a tonic start with a bogey-free 69 to finish in a tie for 17th at the end of day one.

The Northern Irishman shot a solid three-under in the first eight holes, and then went on to par the next 10 holes.

“(It’s my) first competitive round in over a hundred days, so it’s a little bit different. But I did well. I stayed patient,” said McIlroy.

“I gave myself loads of chances and started the day with 11 straight pars, so I was trying to stay as patient as possible, so it was nice to birdie three of the last seven there and get in under 70.”

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