Thursday, 21 January 2016
Bryson Dechambeau  (Getty Images)
Bryson Dechambeau (Getty Images)

Amateur Bryson DeChambeau stole the show on Thursday morning as he set the early target at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

While eyes were on another American 22 year old in the shape of World Number One Jordan Spieth, DeChambeau fired a brilliant 64 to set the clubhouse target at eight under, one shot clear of Henrik Stenson.

The US Amateur champion is playing in just his second European Tour event after last season's US Open Championship but looked completely at home as he moved to the head of a high-class leaderboard.

Stenson, who was playing just six weeks after knee surgery, had just one bogey in his 65 to sit at seven under, a shot clear of reigning Race to Dubai champion Rory McIlroy with Spieth a further two shots back at four under.

Richard Bland fired a 67 to sit alone at five under with Thomas Bjørn and David Howell alongside Spieth.

McIlroy got off to an ideal start as he got up-and-down from a bunker on the par five tenth and he made it a birdie-birdie start on the next.

He also put his tee-shot on the par three 12th close but saw his putt lip out and then had a shock on the next after three-putting after having only 120 yards left after his drive.

While McIlroy was making bogey, Bland was bettering his start with birdies on the first, second and third to get into the lead but McIlroy got back within a shot of him with a 10-foot gain on the 14th.

The Northern Irishman was disappointed with his tee-shot on the next as he left himself around 25 feet for birdie but he made it to get into a share of top spot, with Spieth making a first birdie of the day after putting his first inside five feet.

Martin Kaymer was level par as he stood on the 15th tee after a birdie and a bogey but three consecutive gains catapulted him up the leaderboard with another McIlroy three-putt on the 17th dropping him to two under.

But he bounced straight back on the par five 18th as an excellent third shot from the side of the green helped him to a birdie with Spieth making his second birdie of the day from three feet.

Bland moved ahead with a gain on the eighth but Kaymer soon joined him and when McIlroy and Speith both birdied the first, the top of the leaderboard had an intimidating look.

Stenson, playing alongside Kaymer, had turned in 33 and when he put his approach shot to the second within a foot, he also moved into a share of the lead. But he was not there for long as Bland made a sixth birdie of the day on the tenth.

The pair went blow-for-blow with Stenson making a gain on the third before Bland followed suit on the 11th and Stenson hit back on the fourth to tie the lead.

The Swede then emulated playing partner Kaymer by making it four in a row on the fifth and he was out in front on his own for the first time at seven under.

In the group ahead, McIlroy had picked up a further birdie on the third to get to five under while Spieth endured a bit of a rollercoaster as he had a bogey on the second and then went birdie-bogey-birdie from the fourth.

McIlroy did well to recover from the rough stuff for an eighth birdie of the day on the eighth but Stenson came up behind him and made one of his own to get to eight under and open up some breathing space.

Bland made his only bogey of the day on the 17th to drop to five under while Stenson found the rough off the tee and bunker with his second shot on the ninth to fall to seven under, where he would soon be joined by DeChambeau.

The amateur had dropped a shot on the third but followed that with back-to-back birdies before an eagle on the eighth really kick-started his round. He then went birdie-birdie round the turn and picked up further shots on the 15th and 16th before a closing gain moved him ahead.

Spieth picked up a birdie on the last to move into the group at four under, next to Howell who recorded six birdies and two bogeys in his round.

Bjørn's round was one of the stories of the day as he birdied the 13th before recording a triple-bogey on the next which he followed with an ace on the 15th as he sank a six iron from 179 yards.

Further birdies followed on the fifth, seventh, eighth and ninth as the Dane got his 2016 campaign off to a positive start.

Byeong-hun An, three-time champion Kaymer, Søren Kjeldsen, Mikko Korhonen, Wade Ormsby and Renato Paratore were then all in the group at three under.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1FOWLER, RickieUSA18-16
2PIETERS, ThomasBEL18-15
T3STENSON, HenrikSWE18-14
T3MCILROY, RoryNIR18-14
T5SIEM, MarcelGER18-11
T5SPIETH, JordanUSA18-11

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