Superb start in Dubai for Matt Fitzpatrick but Danny Willett struggles

Matt Fitzpatrick made an excellent start to the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship
Matt Fitzpatrick made an excellent start to the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship
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Matt Fitzpatrick hailed an excellent first individual round of 2016 as he finished bogey-free on the opening day of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

The Sheffield golfer ended the day tied for seventh in Dubai, four shots off surprise leader, amateur Bryson Dechambeau of the United States.

Fresh from helping Team Europe to victory in the EurAsia Cup, the 21-year-old was delighted with his flawless opening round despite not being too happy with his game heading into the tournament.

“It’s been brilliant for me,” Fitzpatrick said. “The first round of the year and a bogey-free round as well. It’s a nice start to the year.

“I’ve got to admit I wasn’t feeling great this week, I didn’t feel like I was playing my best.

“But I played pretty nicely on Thursday and got it round.”

Fitzpatrick headed into the back nine one under par but added three further birdies to come in strongly.

His solid performance came despite breaking his usual driver earlier in the week and being forced to find an alternative during the late stages of his preparation.

He said: “It cracked in the pro-am. At one point we had six drivers in the bag just trying a few out.

“We sort of half found one and it was a bit of a risk using it but it’s worked out quite well.”

It was a much-less successful day for fellow Sheffield golfer Danny Willett who finished with a three over par round of 75.

Willett fired four bogeys in his first six holes as his good form evaded him and he has plenty of work to do to avoid missing the cut.

Fitzpatrick will tee off at 3.30am on Friday with Willett out ten minutes later.