McDowell starts well as Bland shares lead in MENA Tour opener

Ronan MacNamara
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Graeme McDowell (Photo by Charles Laberge/LIV Golf via Getty Images )

Graeme McDowell had one of his better days on the LIV circuit as he fired a four-under-par 68 in Bangkok as he moved to within three of the lead. 

McDowell trails a trio of Branden Grace, Richard Bland and Eugenio Lopez-Chacarra as he hunts the $4 million prize but it will all be in vain as he continues to plummet down the world rankings – now 414th in the world. 

Perhaps at 414th in the world the MENA Tour is G Mac’s level now and he will be encouraged by his opening round on the Dubai based tour which saw its request to be eligible for world ranking points this week rejected by the Official World Golf Ranking. 

Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) received a communication from the MENA Tour on October 5th, 2022, at 13:05 BST. The communication detailed significant changes to the MENA Tour’s membership structure along with an outline of the initial series of tournaments in the 2022/23 MENA Tour season.

OWGR notes that the first two tournaments in this series appeared to be the same as the LIV Golf Invitational Series tournaments in Bangkok and Jeddah. The communication from the MENA Tour included a starting field data file for the Bangkok tournament, confirming that to be the case.

A review of the changes to the MENA Tour is now underway by the OWGR.

Notice of these changes given by the MENA Tour is insufficient to allow OWGR to conduct the customary necessary review ahead of the LIV Golf Invitational Bangkok (7-9 October) and LIV Golf Invitational Jeddah (14-16 October).

The former US Open champion carded birdies on the first, third, sixth, fourteenth and seventeenth to share 11th place alongside Patrick Reed and Sergio Garcia. 

There was hardly a dry eye in the Belfry when 49-year-old Bland finally got over the line at the British Masters to win his first DP World Tour event at the 478th time of asking last year but the Englishman has failed to hit the heights since. 

However, winning is winning and he bids to become a multi-tour winner this weekend with 36 holes to go after a superb opening round of 65. 

“It’s great to get off to a good start and for me that’s all it is. There’s a long way to go, it’s a world class field and I’ve been around long enough to know that. All it is so far a good start,” said Bland. 

A healthy crowd turned out in Thailand this morning to see this exhibition as they saw yesterday’s men prove they can still turn it on despite no longer featuring at the top level of golf. 

Former US Open and PGA Champion Brooks Koepka is among the chasing pack on five-under after a 67. 

Meanwhile Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood are all in a share of 14th on three-under. 

The top-20 paints a picture of what used to be in the game of golf but now isn’t with just six players ranked inside the top-50 in the world while only one (Abraham Ancer) is inside the top-25. 

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