Morikawa Leads Early in Dubai Desert Classic


Collin Morikawa has shot four birdies in the first seven holes to lead the way on the opening day of the Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Club in Dubai.

Starting on the back nine, Morikawa hit birdies on the 10th, 12th, 15th and 16th to lead by one shot ahead of group of players on 3-under which included Rory McIlroy.

Kiwi Ryan Fox is playing his second DP World Tour event of the year and has started with a birdie and a bogey to be at even par after seven holes.

The opening day in the middle east followed two pro-am days which saw an assortment of English Premier League footballers and Formula One drivers join scores of amateurs in trying to emulate the golfing world’s greats on the eve of the four-day tournament at Emirates Golf Club.

Manchester United defender Harry Maguire and Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, two regular England international team-mates, joined compatriot Lee Westwood in a glamour group, with Pickford admitting he found the round a more nerve-wracking prospect than keeping goal for his country.

Formula One sensation Lando Norris also swapped the high-octane thrills and spills of the F1 cockpit for the Majlis Course fairways. The 22-year-old McLaren star, taking part in his first-ever pro-am event, teed off in a group with Austrian pro Bernd Wiesberger and admitted to being a bundle of nerves.

“I was very nervous for the first few holes,” said Norris. “I was shaking on the first few tee shots, but I ended up playing much better than I thought I would. Normally I play a relaxed round with mates, so this was very different – a lot more pressure!

“The course was incredible, and it was great to play with Bernd. It is very interesting to watch a professional at the top of his game in a different sport, to see his approach and his mentality, especially when I am at the bottom level of his sport! It was lovely to get some time away from the cold of the UK, and great to relax as I will be straight back to work when I go home.”


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Reigning Race to Dubai champion Collin Morikawa led the 2 team of Mike Bevill, Jim Batjer and US Walker Cup star Trip Kuehne to glory with an impressive -33 score, three shots better than Adam Scott’s EGA 6 team which featured Jake Skelton, Maurizio La Noce and Matt Ida.

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