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DP World Tour: Scott Jamieson makes a record start to the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Scott Jamieson romped to a 63 at Yas Links for a three-shot lead.

Dumping his usual winter overhaul proved perfect for Scott Jamieson as he romped to a record nine-under 63 to set the pace in Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

The 38-year-old Florida-based Scot didn’t have a bogey on a perfect morning on the Yas Links for the first round of the new DP World Tour season.

A 10-foot birdie putt at the last left him three shots clear of the rest of the morning wave. Norway’s Viktor Hovland pulled to within a shot with an afternoon 64, while another Ryder Cup player, Belguim’s Thomas Pieters, had a 65.

France’s Dundee-based Victor Perez was among a group sharing fourth on six-under with defending champion Tyrrell Hatton and Ian Poulter.

‘The game was in a good place’

For Jamieson, a solid ending to 2021 – going close to the top ten in Dubai in the penultimate event – meant he didn’t feel he had to go under the bonnet during his time off.

“It’s eight weeks off from tournament golf so you’re always a little but on edge at the start of the day,” he admitted.

“But this is the first off-season I haven’t peeled the skin back to try and figure out how to get better.

“The game was in a good place finishing in Dubai and just missing out on a Top-10 there. I’ve been driving it a lot better the last few events of the year last year, so I was pretty comfortable where my game was. I just had to hope that it turned up again eight weeks later.”

Jamieson has always done well in Abu Dhabi – he was 16th last year – and is conscious of the need to get off to a strong start.

“When I started practising a couple weeks ago, I kept telling myself that, you have to hit the ground running,” he said. “It could ultimately dictate how your whole season goes.

“If you miss the first two cuts of the year, then all of a sudden you feel like you’re miles behind because there’s such a great prize the first couple of events.”

Those nerves at the season’s start don’t compare to those at the season’s end, however.

“Last year I was kind of always around a number for keeping my playing rights,” he said.

“I managed to get my driving improved quite a lot at tail end of the season and had some good finishes when I needed them.

“That’s way more pressure than the first round of the year, that’s for sure.

“But birdie at the first today settled any edge there was. It was just solid all day, one tee shot wasn’t very good but I got lucky and recovered well. 9-under par is a phenomenal start.”

‘Like playing in Scotland, except it’s warm’

The switch to Yas Links, an acclaimed design of Kingsbarns architect Kyle Phillips, is right up his street as well.

“It’s like playing in Scotland, but obviously it’s warm,” he said. “That’s maybe the best of both worlds for me.

“It’s a stunning-looking golf course, a great design. Tomorrow is going to be interesting, there’s a lot of wind forecast.

“Be interesting to see how they are going to set the course up.”

Perez, MacIntyre with strong starts

Perez was seven-under after seven holes, with five birdies and an eagle two at the 405-yard fifth. He got to eight-under with four to play but dropped shots at 15 and at the par five final hole.

“I was playing really nicely and then you’re obviously in a situation that is a bit odd,” he said of his fast start.

“I think every golfer knows when you’re really low through eight or nine holes, it’s a weird balance.

“It’s hard to keep going in a sense because I think you get a little bit outside your comfort zone.

“The back nine obviously plays harder with the wind picking up a little bit. It’s nothing compared to what it’s been and what it probably will be the rest of the week, but I am still very pleased.”

It was a solid opening to the year for Robert McIntyre with a three-under 69 including five birdies. Aberdeen’s David Law matched that with a birdie at the last

Drumoig’s Connor Syme also made a good start with a two-under 70 in the morning wave, while Richie Ramsay (-1) and Grant Forrest (level par) also had positive days.

Rory McIlroy had an up-and-down day with a par 72, dropping a shot at the last. Defending tour and Open champion Colin Morikawa began with a one-over 73.

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