RAS AL KHAIMAH // Ahmed Reda Rhazali and Jake Shepherd set the pace in the first round of the Ras Al Khaimah Classic yesterday, each carding a five-under par 67 and setting a course record in the process.
The 24-year-old Moroccan hit seven birdies, including five on the back nine, and two bogeys in his career-best round since turning professional 19 months ago, while England's Shepherd dropped just one shot en route to his 67 as the duo established a two-stroke lead over Adil Jahangir of Pakistan and Canada's Lindsay Renolds in the second leg on the Mena Golf Tour.
The experienced Moroccan professional Faycal Serghini and Andy Andrews, a UAE-based professional from Sri Lanka, were a further shot back.
Rhazali said: "I played solid golf and hit about 15 to 16 greens. My putting was equally good. And it's because I turned to my tried-and-trusted belly putter.
"For some strange reason, I didn't use this putter during the Abu Dhabi event [last week] and that proved to be a costly mistake.
"I did miss a couple of shots here and there, but you can't complain after shooting a 67. If I can keep the momentum going, anything is possible."
Shepherd, who arrived only 48 hours before the event's start from London, said it was Zane Scotland, who encouraged him to compete. "I didn't know about it, but Zane spoke highly of the Tour and convinced me to compete," he said. "I am glad that I made the right decision."
Pakistan's Jahangir attributed his round to "perfect hitting".
"My driving, iron play and putting was just solid. I three putted on the first hole, but after that everything was just fine."
Player Score Total
Ahmed-Reda Rhazali -5 67
Jake Shepherd -5 67
Lindsay Renolds -3 69
Aadil Jehangir -3 69
SM Javed Ahmed -2 70
Andy Andrews -1 71
Faycal Serghini -1 71
Yasin Ali 0 72
Peter Richardson 0 72
Chris Chamberlain 0 72
Sean McNamara 0 72
Ahmed Marjan [Am] 0 72