Defending Champion Tommy Fleetwood, England, is tied at the top of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship leaderboard with Hideto Tanihara of Japan.
In defence of his Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship title Tommy hit all 18 greens in regulation to card a bogey free first round -6 under par 66 to share the lead with Hideto, who was also bogey free at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club in the United Arab Emirates.
Tommy said he played well, especially off the tee and capitalized with good putting;
“It’s a good golf course to hit 18 greens around, just a good ball-striking round and nice to start the year off like that.”
“Had control of my ball really from the get-go. Just sort of did what you need to do well around here to get a good score.”
“I drove it well, got away with a couple of tee shots.”
“Eighteen greens doesn’t happen very often so nice to do it around here.”
“My pace putting was really good. I didn’t put myself under any stress at all. So all in all, a very good morning.”
Hideto played smart golf and also had a good day with the putter;
“It’s a tough course here, I’m thinking more about playing smart golf and making good putts.”
“Aoki, he won on the European Tour, and I’m just trying to focus on winning on the European Tour.”
Five players share third place at -5 under par after their rounds of 67; Fabrizio Zanotti, Paraguay, Sam Brazel, Australia, Ross Fisher, England, Thomas Pieters, Belgium and Bernd Wiesberger of Austria.
Rory McIlroy played alongside Tommy and world number one Dustin Johnson, for his first outing of the season and carded a respectable -3 under 69.
Rory was happy with his performance;
“It was nice, I sort of knew what I was expecting out there but at the same time, you never really know.”
“First competitive round in over a hundred days, so it’s a little bit different. But I did well.”
“I played very solid. I think only missed one or two greens, so gave myself plenty of chances. Drove the ball well. Iron play was pretty good.”
“So just need to keep doing that over the next three days and I should have a chance. I was excited to get going.”