Scotsman Jamieson fires flawless round to take lead in Abu Dhabi

Scotland's Scott Jamieson carded a nine-under par 63 at the Yas Links in Abu Dhabi. — AFP file
Scotland's Scott Jamieson carded a nine-under par 63 at the Yas Links in Abu Dhabi. — AFP file

Abu Dhabi - Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy had to settle for an even-par 72, while world No.2 Collin Morikawa carded a disappointing 73

By Joy Chakravarty

Published: Thu 20 Jan 2022, 7:24 PM

Give a Scotsman a links course and he will be at home. Add some warm weather to it, and you are bound to get some fireworks — like a course-record nine-under par 63 for Scott Jamieson on the opening day of the $8 million Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

The 38-year-old, ranked 338th in the world, posted a bogey-free round of nine birdies to take a one-shot lead over world No.7 Viktor Hovland. The Norwegian superstar continued his form from 2021 end, when he won the Mayakoba Championship and the Hero World Challenge in back-to-back starts on the PGA Tour, also made nine birdies and a solitary bogey on the 12th.

It was a day of low scores at Yas Links Golf Club, which did not get any wind in the morning, followed by a mild breeze in the evening. However, the forecast warns of 54 kmph wind tomorrow (Friday), so it was a good time for the players to go deep and build up their bank balance for Friday’s bad weather.

Belgium’s Thomas Pieters was in third place at seven-under par 65, while defending champion Tyrrell Hatton of England was in a group of five players tied for the fourth place at six-under 66. That included Japan’s Takumi Kanaya and Frenchman Victor Perez, who had both moved to eight-under before making a couple of bogeys in their last four holes.

It wasn’t the best of starts for two of the tournament’s star attractions. World No.2 and reigning European No.1 Collin Morikawa never got going in a round of one-over 73, while Abu Dhabi expert Rory McIlroy slumped to an even-par 72. Both will need solid rounds on Friday to make the cut.

Play was suspended for darkness with six groups still to finish their opening round.

Jamieson, who experienced a resurgence in form towards the end of 2021 and managed to retain his card, said he was hitting it “decently close” whole day, but the highlight was a monster birdie putt from 67 feet on the 12th hole.

“It was a good day and that birdie made it even better,” said Jamieson. “It was eight weeks off from tournament golf, so you are always a little bit on edge probably at the start of the day but birdie on the first hole kind of settled any edge there was and it was just really solid all day.”

Commenting on the fact that Yas Links is a links-style course and him growing up playing on similar courses in Scotland, Jamieson quipped: “For me, it’s like playing in Scotland, but it’s warm. That’s maybe the best of both worlds for me. It’s a stunning-looking golf course. It's a great design.”

Among the UAE-based players, 17-year-old amateur Josh Hill shot the first sub-par round of his DP World Tour career, but was left with mixed feelings after a one-under par 71.

“Honestly, I should have scored better. I hit so many good shots on my front nine (the back nine of the golf course), but did not make any putt,” said the talented amateur world No187.

Ahmed Skaik, the UAE No1 amateur, was battling hard in much tougher evening conditions and was one-over par when play was suspended for darkness. Professional Ahmed Al Musharrekh finished on seven-over par 79.

SCORES (after 18 holes)

63 – Scott Jamieson (SCO)

64 – Viktor Hovland (NOR)

65 – Thomas Pieters (BEL)

66 – Takumi Kanaya (JPN), Tyrrell Hatton (ENG), Victor Perez (FRA), James Morrison (ENG), Ian Poulter (ENG),

67 – Charl Schwartzel (RSA), Tomas Detry (BEL), Shane Lowry (IRE),

68 – Alexander Bjork (SWE), Tommy Fleetwood (ENG), Dale Whitnell (ENG), Robert Rock (ENG)

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