Jan 23rd, 2020
Pieters leads the way in Dubai
As the field struggles in the wind
Words: GolfPunk Photography: Getty Images
Thomas Pieters leads the Omega Dubai Desert Classic after an impressive opening round of 67 on the tough Emirates Golf Club course. The Belgian leads by one shot from David Lipsky of the USA with a gaggle of twelve players, which includes Englishman Eddie Pepperell, Robert Karlsson of Sweden and Dane Søren Kjeldsen, a further shot back.
Thicker rough and a testing wind made for a much tougher challenge than in recent years and some big names posted large numbers as less than a quarter of the field managed to break par. Last week’s winner, Lee Westwood, shot an opening round of 78, six-over-par.
27-year-old Pieters was out of the traps quickly making three birdies in his first six holes. A double bogey on the 1st hole, his tenth, followed by a dropped shot on the next saw him lose the lead but the Ryder Cup star rallied rattling off three birdies on the bounce from the fifth tee. The tee shot at the short 7th hole was particularly impressive and resulted in the Belgian’s third two of the round.
“My drives and three woods weren't very good today, but somehow I found the greens and if I did hit a fairway, I took advantage of it. I played the par threes very well. So that means I'm hitting my irons pretty good as I did last week and I just rolled in a few putts, which was nice,” commented Pieters after his round.
American David Lipsky had led the way early doors with around comprising five birdies and just a single dropped shot in a four-under-par 68.
Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau is at two under par after an opening round of 70 one shot ahead of a group that includes major champions Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington and Louis Oosthuizen.
The players seemed to relish the tougher conditions and had no complaints about the course. England’s Eddie Pepperell confirmed that the course was tougher than prior years.
“I'm really happy with that. It was clear early on it was going to be very, very challenging. I played a good round of golf today and proud of that if you know my record on Thursdays. It was, I imagine, fun to watch. The course has gone from being a five under cut to, I suspect, being a couple-over cut.”
Bryson DeChambeau agreed: “It's a very, very good test of golf and you have to make sure your wedge game is on and your iron play is on. It's playing at least four shots harder a day (on last year).”
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