Tommy Fleetwood happy with ‘good round’ in Dubai

Tommy Fleetwood lies three shots off the lead after an opening day of extremely low scoring in the AVIV Dubai Championship.

Fleetwood carded eight birdies and two bogeys in a six-under-par 66 as 85 of the 114-man field broke par on the Fire Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Denmark’s JB Hansen set the pace on nine under par, two shots ahead of defending champion Antoine Rozner, South Africa’s Dean Burmester and the English pair of Andy Sullivan and Paul Waring.

Fleetwood, who is bidding to become the fourth member of Europe’s Ryder Cup team after Matt Fitzpatrick, Rory McIlroy and Viktor Hovland to win a tournament since the record defeat at Whistling Straits, was part of a five-way tie for sixth place.

“I drove it well,” Fleetwood said. “I did a lot of very good things. There were a couple of sloppy things out there that you would rather not do, but overall off the tee I felt pretty confident.

“It’s scorable and you can see by the scores, but you’ve still got to go out there and do it. You’ve got to hit the shots and hole some putts so I’m happy with the start.

“I started off like a rocket, four under through six, and bar the odd sloppy, disappointing mistake I just threw a good round together like a few people did.”

Rozner shot 25 under par to win his maiden European Tour title here last year and a similar winning total looks like it will be necessary to make a successful defence.

“I just think every shot suits my eye here, but you’ve still got to play well, and my last few rounds – including last year – and my practice round this week, I’ve been playing really solid out here,” said Rozner, who won the Qatar Masters earlier this year.

“Obviously the par fives are important; apart from number five you have an iron for (second shots on) all of the par fives, there are couple of short par fours and I think I’m moving the ball well around the course so I’m looking forward to the next few days.

“I know I’ve played well here in the past so that gives me a bit of confidence, but at the end you just start over. I’ve played well these last few weeks, my ball striking has been good and on this course that’s key.”

Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher marked his 600th European Tour appearance with a round of 70 and said: “I felt it today on the first tee.

“It was nice to play with Padraig (Harrington) because we both got a card together back in 1995 after the Walker Cup so it was great to reminisce with him. It’s great to reach 600 as it means you’ve stood the test of time.

“I think if I have four more seasons I would get to 700. That is definitely the target. Once you get to 600 you say why not, keep on going.”

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