Nicolai Højgaard produced a back-nine birdie blitz to join French duo Julien Guerrier and Matthieu Pavon at the top of the leaderboard after day one of the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.
The Ryder Cup star was one over after six holes and level par as he made the turn at Jumeirah Golf Estates but reeled off five birdies in six holes to sign for a 67 and get to five under.
Earth course debutant Guerrier went bogey-free at the fifth and final Rolex Series event of the season to take the early lead, before in-form countryman Pavon finished birdie-birdie to join him with a blemish-free effort of his own.
Dane Højgaard finished fourth over the Earth course in his only previous appearance at this event in 2021, catapulting himself into the top ten on that season’s final Rankings.
“You need to hit a lot of drives out there but you want full shots to hold the greens. They are quite firm and you need spin with your approach shots, so finding the fairway is premium. Thankfully I drove the ball well today and could take on more pins as a result,” Højgaard
Seven top tens in the 2023 season helped him earn his place in the European Team that defeated the United States in Rome and he had his best finish of the campaign finishing second at last week’s Nedbank Championship.
Pavon recently claimed his first DP World Tour title at the acciona Open de España presented by Madrid and has since added two further top 20s in his last three events, while Guerrier is making his first appearance at the season-ending event.
Another Frenchman in Antoine Rozner was a shot off the lead at four under par alongside Swede Jens Dantorp and Pole Adrian Meronk. Højgaard’s Ryder Cup team-mates Tommy Fleetwood, Viktor Hovland and Robert MacIntyre were a shot further back at three under alongside South Korea’s Tom Kim.
Due to the weather forecast, round two of the DP World Tour Championship will be a two-tee start, U draw on Friday from 11:00am local time.