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Stars shining early in the desert

World Number One Brooks Koepka, fellow Major Champion Sergio Garcia and Rolex Series winner Rafa Cabrera Bello all shared the early lead on day one of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA.

Sergio Garcia

The first Rolex Series event of the 2020 Race to Dubai had brought an elite field to Abu Dhabi Golf Club and the marquee groups were putting on a show in the early morning sunshine.

Garcia and Koepka both turned in 32 to get to four under, while Cabrera Bello had played eight holes, with Australian Jason Scrivener completing the four man group at the top of the leaderboard.

Italian Renato Paratore, Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, Australia's Zach Murray and South African Haydn Porteous were a shot off the lead.

Scrivener started with three birdies, while Paratore birdied three of his first four, but the early marquee groups were already stalking.

Koepka and Cabrera Bello both took advantage of the par five tenth and while Garcia missed that opportunity, he made a birdie from ten feet at the 11th.

Cabrera Bello put his tee shot to tap-in range at the 12th to sit one back and a 15 foot left to righter at the 15th meant Garcia was also one back.

Koepka holed from similar range at the 15th but Cabrera Bello was flying and joined the lead with an excellent approach to the 14th from the waste area.

Paratore and Scrivener both birdied the sixth and Cabrera Bello joined them at four under with another wonderful iron into the par three 15th.

At that point the leaders were two clear of the field but Garcia holed a 20 footer on the 17th and Koepka chipped in at the same hole.

Paratore bogeyed the seventh but was replaced at four under by Garcia, who got on the green at the par five 18th in two.

Koepka then got up and down from the sand at the 18th and he was in the leading group.

Wiesberger had been erratic off the tee but he left himself a tap-in at the 15th, sandwiched by birdies at the back nine par fives to sit a shot back.

Porteous birdied three of his first four holes, while Murray had four birdies and a bogey in his opening six.

Martin Kaymer, a three time winner of this event, Australians Scott Hend and Lucas Herbert, Scotsman Scott Jamieson and France's Mike Lorenzo-Vera were two back.

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