Former US Open winner Graeme McDowell birdied his final three holes to join Gavin Green in a share of the lead on 6-under-par after the opening round of the Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers.
Malaysian Green hit the opening shot of the tournament early in the morning and for most of the afternoon it looked like his 64 wouldn’t be caught as the wind picked up for the late starters.
However, wind specialist McDowell found the conditions to his liking as he reeled off a succession of late gains to sit alongside Green.
“They key today was finding the fairways and finding the greens – and then taking as few putts as possible. I got off to a great start being 5-under through nine and played the hard holes well. It was a good, solid day.” – Gavin Green
Green’s best finish on the European Tour is a share of second place at the 2017 Hero Indian Open while McDowell has ten titles to his name on the circuit, including the 2010 US Open at Pebble Beach.
Swedish pair Henrik Stenson and Sebastian Soderberg sit in a share of second place, one stroke back, alongside Spaniard Adri Arnaus and France’s Victor Perez while an English quartet of Andy Sullivan, Aaron Rai, Tom Lewis and Ross Fisher are joined in a share of seventh on 4-under by Phil Mickelson, Ryan Fox and Jhonattan Vegas.
World No.1 Brooks Koepka was 2-under at the turn but suffered three bogeys on the back nine before climbing back to level par 70 with a birdie at the last.
Current Race to Dubai leader Lee Westwood also shot level par while Ryder Cup star and former Masters winner Patrick Reed signed for a 3-over 75.