Tommy Fleetwood starts Abu Dhabi defence in style

Defending Champion Tommy Fleetwood showed no signs of loosening his grip on the Falcon Trophy with a clinical, bogey-free round of six-under par 66 to lead the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA alongside Japan’s Hideto Tanihara at the close of round one.

The Englishman was happy with his competitive return to Abu Dhabi, as he cruised around the sun-kissed course in the morning sesson, playing in the company of World Number One Dustin Johnson and four time Major winner Rory McIlroy.


“It was very good, very stress-free,” said the 27-year-old. “I played really well from start to finish, and felt like I did what you need to do well around this golf course which is drive it well and hit your irons well – but you can’t really be too greedy all the time. My pace of putting was also really good. Just basically did what you need to do to get a good score around the golf course.”

First Start

Tanihara marked his first start in Abu Dhabi with a superb round while Belgium’s Thomas Pieters joined England’s Ross Fisher, Australia’s Sam Brazel, Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger and Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanottif on five under par, one shot off the pace.

Olympic Medallists

Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, who was grouped with fellow Olympic medallists Justin Rose and Matt Kuchar, got the better of both his partners with an encouraging round of two under par 70. Rose and Kuchar opened with rounds of 71 and 72 respectively.

Professional qualifier Tom Buchanan, the Head Pro at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club shot an opening round of two over par 74 while Ahmed Al Musharrekh, the Championship’s 27-year-old Emirati qualifier, shot an 86 around the National Course.

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