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Stenson hails short stick after solid Saudi start

Stenson hails short stick after solid Saudi start

Henrik Stenson was pleased with his putting display as he carded an opening 65 to put himself right in the mix on day one of the 2020 Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers.

Henrik Stenson

The Swede had six birdies and a single dropped shot as he got to five under at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club, 12 months after narrowly missing the cut at the inaugural event last season.

And while the 2016 Open Champion admitted he had the better of the conditions in the morning, he was happy to take advantage.

"That was some good putting," he said. "I contributed most of it to the putting today. 

"It's still a struggle off the tee at times and the rough is pretty thick. I had to scramble well on a couple of holes but the approach shots that were close I converted into birdies and kept it together nicely, so very pleased with that.

"It was very calm. I feel the same last year. I played early last year and I didn't really take advantage of the first round and then on Friday afternoon, it really started pumping. 

"There's a big difference compared to playing in the morning, so you really want to try and make extra birdies as a cushion there. It's going to be a tougher round of golf tomorrow than this one for sure."

Fellow Swede Sebastian Soderberg also carded a 65 as he came home in 31 four days after playing his final round at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in 97 minutes - the fastest 18 holes in European Tour history.

"It was very good on the back nine," he said. "It was a little off on the front but I hit some quality shots on the back nine and was solid with the putter inside ten feet. It was a nice round.

Adri Arnaus

"These green areas are quite tricky and it doesn't take a lot to short side yourself brutally. Thankfully I was able to miss in the right spots when I missed."

Adri Arnaus was also at five under as he looks for a first European Tour victory after three runner up finishes in his rookie campaign and a tie for third last week.

"It's great," he said. "To have a great finish to start the season is just something very encouraging. I'm looking forward to continuing the good play and hopefully we get a good finish as well this week and the following weeks.

"Last week from the tee I was brilliant, long and straight, and obviously hitting it quite close. The putting is going well at the same time. Pretty much everything at some point so I've got to keep doing those things."

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