– Bernie McGuire reports from Dubai.
Padraig Harrington had good reason to feel short-changed after signing for a four-under par 68 on the opening of the AVIV Dubai Championship at the Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai.
Harrington was four-under with five birdies and a bogey after just nine holes and then produced nine inward half pars in his round in very hot and slightly humid conditions on the Fire course.
Dane Joachim B. Hansen leads the field teeing-off early on day one after producing a bogey-free nine-under par 63. Hansen, with the ‘B’ standing for Brandt, continues a rich run of form from the Danish competing on the European Tour.
In a bunched leaderboard, four players are on seven-under par, five shooting 66s, 15 recording 65s and Harrington among a dozen sharing 26th place on four-under.
Looking at Harrington’s card, he bogeyed his second, the 11th hole on the card, and then picked-off birdies at his third and then three in succession from the fifth to seventh, and also at his ninth.
“It’s an okay start but then being four-under through nine, I was naturally hoping to go much lower over the back nine, so just left a few out there,” he said.
“I just struggled on what is the outward nine on the scorecard but my last nine holes. I missed a short birdie on my 16th but managed to hole a 10-footer for par at the next.
“I was really pleased as I hit my wedges well and I haven’t done that for a while so yes, it could have been a few better but overall, it was okay. Four-under is a good springboard into my next round.”
Harrington went into the first round of hopefully his penultimate event of 2021 now lying 56th on the Race to Dubai after picking-up two places without hitting a shot since finishing T12th last week at the Portugal Masters and being announced on the first tee earlier this morning.
This was due to the pair of Sergio Garcia and Patrick Reed being removed from Race to Dubai rankings given they had not satisfied certain criteria in terms of 2021 tournament commitment. In Garcia’s case, he is obliged to play one event on Spanish home soil which he didn’t.
However, European Tour CEO Keith Pelley stepped forward, and given both are honorary members of the Tour as past Masters champions, he afforded each ‘special permission’ to tee-up next week on the Earth course for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.
Reed, currently ranked 49th, could be overtaken on the Race to Dubai and drop outside the leading 51 players who will tee-up on the second course here at Jumeirah Estates.
“Even though I’ve picked-up two spots on the Race to Dubai, I still need to pick-up six or seven places to be into next week,” said Harrington. “It’s achievable and I am determined to do it.”
Harrington was also asked about his right knee being strapped, clearly causing a little discomfort as noticed in the days ahead of this week’s event.
“It’s fine, it’s fine,” he said. “I’m not limping! I hope not. I can have a problem getting out of a car. It’s just that I don’t have lateral movement.”
Unfortunately, no good news for Paul Dunne who failed to get a start. Dunne was second reserve overnight with no player in the field withdrawing just ahead of tee-off.
Clandeboye’s Jonathan Caldwell was outside the top-70 after posting five birdies and four bogeys in a one-under par 71.
- Full scoring HERE