February 2, 2017: Sergio Garcia fired a brilliant opening 65 to set the clubhouse target on day one of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. Anirban Lahiri produced a solid 69 to start his run for glory at the Emirates Golf Club. SSP Chawrasia endured a difficult day in the office, scoring 77. Tiger Woods also had a poor outing, matching the score of Chawrasia.
The Spaniard’s last European Tour victory came on the Desert Swing at the 2014 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters and he was once again making himself at home in the Middle East.
Garcia recorded a stunning eagle on the third to go with six birdies and a single bogey to get to seven under and open up a one-shot lead over Chile’s Felipe Aguilar and South African George Coetzee.
Ian Poulter was then in the group at five under alongside Nino Bertasio, Nacho Elvira and David Lipsky but it was a day to forget for 14-time Major Championship winner Tiger Woods.
The American drew huge crowds at Emirates Golf Club but struggled to a five over par 77, which was summed up when his approach with a wedge into the 18th found the water for one of his five bogeys.
Garcia made birdies on the first and third before an excellent tee-shot allowed him to birdie the 17th and he took advantage of the par five next.
Another birdie followed on the second before the 37 year old produced the shot of the day so far on the par five third, putting his second shot to four feet and setting up an eagle.
His tee-shot on the fourth looked certain to set up another gain but he missed a short putt before bouncing back with a birdie on the fifth that put him three shots clear. A dropped shot on the eighth then took the gloss of the round.
Dubai-based Indian amateur Rayhan Thomas fired a 68 that put him in some elite company at the age of 17, with Open champion Henrik Stenson, 2010 US Open champion Graeme McDowell and Spaniard Jorge Campillo all at four under.
Anirban Lahiri started on the tenth, in the company of good friend SSP Chawrasia and rising amateur golfer Rayhan Thomas. After evening out the birdie at the tenth with a bogey at the next hole, he surged to four under by the turn.
Anirban shot two birdies – at the 13th and 16th holes – before adding an eagle at the 18th to his card. The 86th ranked Indian was five under with only three holes to punch.
Anirban slipped outside the top ten though, as he signed on a couple of consecutive bogeys at 7 & 8 for his 69.
Defending champion Danny Willett began his week with a one under par 71.