Shane Lowry has equalled the course record in round one of the Abu Dhabi Championship to lead by three but is he value to lead all the way? Read Steve's very early thoughts on the event here...
17:10 - January 16, 2019
Despite hitting only four fairways all day, Shane Lowry fired a sensational ten-under-par 62 at the Abu Dhabi Championship this morning to equal Henrik Stenson's course record, set in the inaugural edition, 13 years ago. He's the first man in history to shoot ten-under-par on the European Tour having hit fewer than five fairways. Here's the leaderboard with prices to back at 17:00.
Shane Lowry -10 6.40 Louis Oosthuizen -7 7.00 Pablo Larrazabal -7 29.00 Mike Lorenzo-Vera -7 38.00 Richard Sterne -7 65.00 Lee Westwood -6 18.50 Martin Kaymer -6 19.50 Ian Poulter -6 25.00 Alexander Bjork -6 40.00 Soren Kjeldsen -6 110.00 Brooks Koepka -5 10.00 Thomas Pieters -5 20.00 Fabrizio Zanotti -5 180.00 -4 and 15.50 bar
This is the first time in his career that Shane Lowry has held a clear lead after an opening round. He was tied at the top at the DP World Championship back in 2014 and at the Phoenix Open on the PGA Tour in 2016 but on both occasions he finished outside the top-four at the end of the week.
Leading by three strokes after the first round is quite rare on the European Tour and it's more than two years since we saw anyone do it. Phil Mickelson led the Open Championship by three after day one before eventually losing by three strokes to Henrik Stenson in 2016.
In total, we've seen just 35 players lead by three strokes after round one of a European Tour event since 1996 and the last one to go on to win was Branden Grace at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa in 2014. He was the eighth player to go on to victory so the strike-rate is a fairly healthy 23%. Albeit, from a fairly small sample size.
Martin Kaymer is the only clear first round leader to go on to take this title, when he won the first of his three Abu Dhabi Championship titles in 2008, although Jamie Donaldson, in 2013, and Tommy Fleetwood, last year, were both tied at the top after round one before going on to win.
All things considered, and as well as he played today, I'm more than happy to swerve Lowry and I'm going to continue to sit in my hands for now.
As highlighted in the In-Play Tactics section of the preview, it's perfectly possible to overcome a slow start and I'm happy to leave the event alone for now, despite not having any realistic involvement.
Pre-event pick and each-way fancy, Matt Wallace, played the back-nine (his front-nine) in four-under-par this morning and he was matched at just 15.00 as a result but he was disappointing thereafter, making far too many errors to end the day on -2. And that's the same score that my only other pre-tournament fancy, Eddie Pepperell, shot. I added Eddie after he'd drifted out before the off but I wish I hadn't bothered now.
The Desert Classic, which I've previewed here, kicks off tomorrow and I did think I might add another one or two there before the off but I haven't bothered. I'll be back tomorrow with an assessment of the state of play in Abu Dhabi at halfway.
Abu Dhabi Championship Pre-Event Selections: Matt Wallace @40.00 Eddie Pepperell @ 100.00 (added after preview published)
Desert Classic Pre-Event Selections: Jon Rahm @ 8.80 Chez Reavie @ 46.00