DUBAI // Zane Scotland and Jack Shepherd held the joint lead after opening round at the Sheikh Maktoum Dubai Open.
The English duo both fired seven-under-par 65s – one shy of the course record – to move one stroke clear of Scotland’s David Law and Ian Keenan of England at the summit of a congested leaderboard.
Pakistan’s Hamza Amin and England’s Matthew Turner were a further shot back on five under as defending champion and tournament favourite Stephen Dodd settled for a level-par 72.
Morocco’s Amin El Malki was the leading amateur with a one-under 71, along with Switzerland’s Peter Stojanovski.
Scotland produced the shot of the day when he aced the 185-yard, par-3 third, using a six iron for his sixth career hole-in-one and the first since turning professional in 2003.
“The birdie of the first and then a hole in one on the third kind of set the tone for the round and I managed to keep the momentum rolling all the way through,” said Scotland, who currently leads the Order of Merit standings with US$27,000 (Dh99,172) from the first four events on the tour this season.
The winner of the 2011 Order of Merit, Shepherd, was also quick off the blocks, reeling off three birdies and an eagle in a row from the fifth to join Scotland at the top of the leaderboard.
“I needed a solid round to boost my confidence since I have not been playing to my potential for the last 18th months or so,” he said. “It has happened and, hopefully, I will be able to capitalise on it as the tournament progresses.”
Amin made his presence felt with a five-under 67, despite double-bogeying the par-4 fourth when he overshot the green while trying to hit a plugged lie out of a bunker.
“Overall, I am pleased with my day’s work. I struck the ball and that was the key,” said the professional, 25, who lives in Innsbruck in Austria.
Among other scores, the UAE’s Ahmed Al Musharrekh shot a two-over 74.