Thursday, 21 January 2016
Day 1 highlights - Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship

Amateur Bryson DeChambeau fired a brilliant 64 to take the first round lead at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, but the rookie will have to keep an experienced and elite chasing pack at bay if he is to hold onto it on Friday.

The US Amateur champion produced seven birdies and an eagle to take a one-shot lead over Henrik Stenson in just his second European Tour event after last season's US Open Championship.

Stenson, the 2013 Race to Dubai champion, has nine European Tour wins in contrast and he was just one shot clear of Europe's reigning Number One Rory McIlroy and six-time winner Branden Grace.

Richard Bland and Andy Sullivan were then at five under with World Number One Jordan Spieth in the group four off the lead alongside Thomas Bjørn, Niclas Fasth, Matthew Fitzpatrick and David Howell.

Every member of that chasing pack has at least one European Tour win under their belt with the exception of Bland, who is playing in his 375th event, but DeChambeau was not intimidated by his illustrious company after matching the lowest opening round by an amateur in European Tour history.

"I had no expectations coming into today and just free-wheeled it and pretty much hit every fairway and was able to make a couple of putts," he said.

It's nice to kind of be an intern as an amateur playing professional events. I'm getting used to it and getting more comfortable each event. It's a lot of fun being out here - Bryson DeChambeau

DeChambeau 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, 16th and 18th to move ahead.

The 22 year old is often noted for the fact that all his irons have the same length shaft and DeChambeau is quite happy to admit that he is a little different.

"I'm a golfing scientist, in a sense, and I'm trying to analyse and understand each and every aspect of the golf course and the way I played," he said "I'll analyse today and see what I can do better at tomorrow and we'll go from there."

Stenson showed no ill effects from his recent knee surgery as he posted a 65 that looked set to be the marker until De Chambeau's impressive finish.

The Swede finished second in the Nedbank Golf Challenge at the start of December and went under the knife four days later with just six weeks' recovery time before teeing it up here at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

But that proved no problem for the 39 year old, who has an impressive record in the Gulf states having won The Commercialbank Qatar Masters and the Dubai Desert Classic, and twice been victorious at the DP World Tour Championship.

He carded eight birdies with a bogey on the ninth, his last, proving the only blemish as he aims to improve on his two second place finishes here in 2006 and 2008.

"That would be great," he said. "I made Dubai my home for almost ten years and feel very comfortable in this part of the world and played some great golf, so it would mean a lot.

"I came very close, especially the first edition of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship in 2006. I think I lost out by a shot to Chris DiMarco. It would be nice to get this one and get the full circle."

He added: "I could have been one or two shots lower even, or possibly one worse off on the last, as well. You have to be lucky, I didn't hit the best tee ball there.

Very happy with the opening round. I haven't played well here in Abu Dhabi the previous two years, so it's nice to get off to solid starts - Henrik Stenson

"I've been going about my business and working away on a few things and that seemed to be working okay on the course today.

"As we know, it was going to be a challenge with the leg, and it is. It's not so much the knee; it's the foot that makes a bit more of a compensation when I'm walking but we are getting there in the end. I made the full 18."

All the attention early in the day had been on McIlroy and Spieth and in the early stages it looked like McIlroy may steal the show as he made a birdie-birdie start and only narrowly missed out on the 12th.

But two three-putts on the back nine, his front nine, led to bogeys to go with his total of eight birdies.

Playing partner Spieth also dropped two shots to go with his six birdies in a 68.

Grace was the best of the afternoon starters and he turned in 31 thanks to five birdies but could only pick up one more shot on the back nine in his 66.

Bland had a single bogey on the 17th in his 67 while Sullivan's afternoon effort was flawless.

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.

Howell and Fasth both had two dropped shots in their respective 68s while Fitzpatrick was bogey-free for his first 18 holes.

Three-time champion Martin Kaymer was then in a group of 17 players at three under which also included BMW PGA Championship winner Byeong-hun An.

Grégory Havret was in the group at level par after a round that included a second hole-in-one of the day at the 15th - which yielded three in last year's event.

Get Adobe Flash player

Tournament Leaderboard

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

European Tour Partners

  • Rolex
  • BMW
  • Emirates
  • Titleist

Media Centre

Official Partner

Official Suppliers

This website is © The PGA European Tour 1997 - 2018. PGA European Tour, Wentworth Drive, Virginia Water, Surrey, GU25 4LX. Registered in England No. 1867610.
All rights reserved. No reproduction, distribution or transmission of any information, part or parts of this website by any means whatsoever is permitted without the prior written permission of the PGA European Tour.