Rafael Cabrera-Bello is sharing the lead at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship with Romain Wattel and Matthew Baldwin.
Rafael Cabrera-Bello / Getty Images.
The three first round leaders carded -5 under par 67, to top the leaderboard at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
Rafa said he was pleased with his effort, especially as it is his first round of the year;
“It’s the first round of the year for most of us. I have not competed for the last five weeks, so even though I have been practising and trying to recreate competition, it’s not quite the same, so I’m pretty pleased. I started good and I held my nerve and more than that, I played the game I know I can play.”
“It is tough out there. You need to drive it good, otherwise the rough, it’s very, very thick, and it’s not easy to play out of. You need to be playing very good off the tee and the greens are rolling really good, so I think that you can make the putts.”
Matthew wants to win and is full of confidence about his good form of late;
“I played nice in the Nelson Mandela and hopefully continue to do so. It’s been a nice preparation, and five days in the sun last week helped. It’s given me confidence to go on and hopefully keep challenging and maybe a win is around the corner, you never know.”
“I want to win. There are plenty of guys that obviously they want to win, as well, but I think looking at the year ahead, top 60 is a target but definitely to get a win under the belt would be superb.”
Romain was the only one of the three who went round bogey free;
“That’s a good test all the time, Abu Dhabi, so really pleased with the five under par and it’s obviously really nice to start the tournament. I tried to save all the bad holes I had and that’s what I tried and that’s what I did, so I’m really pleased with that and I’m going to try to do the same for the next few days.”
Rory McIlroy opened his account with a bogey free round of -2 under par 70, while Open Champion Phil Mickelson shot an uncharacteristic +1 over par 73 which included 17 straight pars and one bogey. I guess his heralded new driver is not working as he expected.
This is what Phil had to say about his new driver, before play started;
“It’s a whole different weapon in my arsenal now. If I drive the ball well, like I have been in practice and I have been this off-season, heading into this 2014 season, this could be the best year of my career for that simple reason. I spin the ball more than anybody, and so what happens is, they end up giving me a driver with seven degrees of loft to knock that spin-off. Now what we did instead is I’ve got a driver with ten degrees of loft, that they have this gravity core that lowers the centre of gravity and knocks off the spin.”
Lets hope this new Callaway driver starts to work for Phil, or he will be back to using his three wood.