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Neergaard-Petersen, Nienaber and Berry set pace on day one at Saadiyat Beach 

Neergaard-Petersen, Nienaber and Berry set pace on day one at Saadiyat Beach 


Neergaard-Petersen entered the event atop the Road to Mallorca Rankings and soon showed why, firing three birdies in his opening four holes. A pair of bogeys and six birdies later, he closed out day one in Abu Dhabi with a share of the clubhouse lead.

The Dane highlighted a good day with the putter as key to his success at Saadiyat Beach.

“It was nice to see a couple of those putts drop early”, he said. “It’s always nice to get off to a good start, so that was lovely.

“Some of the hole locations mean a nice shot from the fairway even with a short club is still a 15 or 20-footer. If you’re going to make birdies, you have to go ahead and make putts.”

Co-leader Nienaber kicked off his round with seven pars before making an eagle and five birdies in his last 11 holes to take a share of the lead, and was pleased to see his patient approach paying dividends.

“Today’s score was bogey-free, which is always nice”, the South African said. “I stayed nice and patient until the eighth hole, picked up a birdie on eight and eagled nine, and just kept on going from there.

“There are no given birdies on this golf course. It feels like you really have to hit it in certain spots to be able to hole putts.

“Seven under wasn’t expected, but I am very happy and confident with the way I’m playing, so I wasn’t too surprised.”

Englishman Berry carded three birdies and two eagles on his way to seven under par and the 18-year-old was delighted with his round, which included a chip-in eagle on his finishing hole.

“It’s a good way to start the week,” he said. “It’s not often you start with a 65, so I’m really pleased. The chip-in was great. I was eyeing it up when I got there, but it was lovely to see it go in.”

The leaders head into the second round two shots clear of Dutchmen Wil Besseling and Vince Van Veen, Scot Euan Walker and Swiss Benjamin Rusch in a tie for fourth, while Frenchmen Félix Mory, Alexander Levy and Clément Berardo share eighth place one shot back alongside Dane John Axelsen and Finn Tapio Pulkkanen.

16 players lie a further shot back including 17-year-old English amateur Oscar Craig, who was joined for his bogey-free 69 by stepfather Tommy Fleetwood, who is caddying for him this week.

The second round gets underway at 6:30am tomorrow, with Neergaard-Petersen teeing off at 12:30, Nienaber off at 12:50 and Berry off at 12:00.

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