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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship: Round 1 as it happened

How things unfolded on Thursday at Abu Dhabi Golf Club as the 13th staging of the tournament got underway.

6.20pm The opening day of the 2018 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, presented by EGA, is in the books.

It is Tommy Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara out in front going into Friday's Round 2.

Below are some of the links to catch up on today's stories from Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Follow Friday's play from 8.30am as we again follow the action unfold with regular live updates.

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Tommy Fleetwood: I’m going to struggle to find a better three-ball than Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy 'proud of myself' after blemish-free opening round at Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

The one name on everybody's lips at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship is BSAK schoolboy Oscar Murphy

Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship groups and tee times (UAE) – Round 2

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5.50pm After nearly five hours on his own as the leader of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, presented by EGA, Tommy Fleetwood's sole hold over top spot has gone.

Hideto Tanihara birdied the last hole to move to -6 and finish on 66, meaning he will start Friday's second round level with the defending champion.

We are pretty much almost done for the day with only a few groups still out on the course.

Fleetwood and Tanihara are at the front, with a quintet of Fabrizo Zanotti, Ross Fisher, Thomas Pieters, Sam Brazel and Bernd Wiesberger all one shot back on -5.

There is little rest for Tanihara as he is back on the course for Round 2 on Friday, alongside 2015 champion Gary Stal and Joakim Lagergren.

Fleetwood tees off at 12.05pm with Rory McIlroy, who is -3, and world No 1 Dustin Johnson, who had a low-key start as he went round in 72 to be even.

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4.40pm The first day is beginning to wind down but we could still have some movement at the top of the leaderboard in the remaining hour. Japan's Hideto Tanihara is one shot of clubhouse leader Tommy Fleetwood on -5, and has four holes remaining to play.

Fleetwood has been on his own at the top for almost four hours since he finished his round, and Fabrizio Zanotti, Ross Fisher and Thomas Pieters are all on -5 with Tanihara, but unlike the Japanese player they are finished for the day.

Of other players still out on the course, South African Brandon Stone is out on the course still at -4 after 13 holes.

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3.48pm Here is what Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship tournament leader and defending champion Tommy Fleetwood, who shot a 6-under-par 66, had to say on being in what Paul Radley describes as The Alpha Group with world No 1 Dustin Johnson and four-time major champion Rory McIlroy:

From left: Tommy Fleetwood of England, Dustin Johnson of the United States and Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walk on the 11th hole during round one of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. Andrew Redington / Getty Images
From left: Tommy Fleetwood of England, Dustin Johnson of the United States and Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walk on the 11th hole during round one of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship at Abu Dhabi Golf Club. Andrew Redington / Getty Images

“During my career, I think I’m going to struggle to find a better three-ball,” Fleetwood said of Johnson and McIlroy.

“It doesn’t matter how long I play, I think that might be the best one I get. It is great, but all you can do is concentrate on your own game.

“I don’t know what I’ll do with my career, nobody knowns what the future holds, but I think these two might be going down in the history books.”

Read the full story here.

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2.27pm Fast starts by Matthew Fitzpatrick, Carlos Pigem, Bernd Wiesberger, Hideto Tanihara and Richard Sterne have seen all five players climb into contention early in their respective rounds.

Fitzpatrick, Pigem and Wiesberger are all 3-under par after eight holes, while Tanihara and Sterne have got to the same score even faster - needing just six holes.

Defending champion Tommy Fleetwood remains the clubhouse leader at 6-under par after his bogey-free 66.

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1.45pm While Tommy Fleetwood has hogged most of the attention so far for his -6, Fabrizio Zanotti completed his opening round in style, producing an eagle on 18 to climb to second place behind Tommy Fleetwood.

A flawless round by the 34-year-old Paraguayan included birdies on the eighth, 14th and 17th before a three on the par-five 18th sealed a fine performance.

Zanotti, ranked No 105 in the world, has two wins on the European Tour.

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1.30pm A bogey on his 16th hole has realistically ended Stephen Gallacher's hopes of having a share of the lead at the top with Tommy Fleetwood.

The Scotsman, who is playing the last, is now on -4, two behind Fleetwood's clubhouse score of -6.

Of the players beginning their rounds at noon, Spaniard Carlos Pigem is off to a flyer as he is -3 after five holes.

Here is a look below at just how Fleetwood started his title defence so well.

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12.45pm Tommy Fleetwood is in the clubhouse as the early leader of the tournament after carding a fine 66 to be on -6.

The Englishman shone as he played alongside playing partners Rory McIlroy and world No 1 Dustin Johnson, and you can read more on his performance from John McAuley's report here.

Stephen Gallacher could still get himself to the top of the standings. The Scotsman is -5 with four holes remaining. He is tied for second spot with Fabrizio Zanotti, who has finished the day with an impressive 67 to his name.

Mikko Ilonen is alone in fourth spot on -4, with McIlroy, Richie Ramsay and Thomas Detry all under -3.

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12.15pm Tommy Fleetwood is now two ahead of the field as a birdie at the 17th leaves him on -6, two ahead of Stephen Gallagher.

He had to wait until 12 holes for his first birdie, but Rory McIlroy has made up for lost time as birdies on holes 16 and 17 have moved him to -3 and a share of third place with Fabrizio Zanotti, Richie Ramsey and Thomas Detry.

Henrik Stenson is in the clubhouse on -2 after carding a round of 70. That is one better than Justin Rose, while three bogies in the final seven holes, including one at the 18th, have undone Matt Kuchar's round has he has finished level par.

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11.50am. Only Martin Kaymer and Paul Casey have successfully defended the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, presented by EGA, title in the previous 12 stagings of the tournament.

Tommy Fleetwood is certainly putting a strong case that he could be the third man to achieve the feat as a birdie at the 15th has moved him clear of the pack again on -5 with three holes to play.

Stephen Gallacher is one behind, with Richie Ramsay and Thomas Detry both two adrift on -3.

It has been a low-key day for most of the tournament's big names so far, with Matt Kuchar, Henrik Stenson, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and world No 1 Dustin Johnson all on -1 as they approach the end of their respective first rounds.

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10.50am. Tommy Fleetwood has struck out on his own as the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship leader with a birdie on the par-five second (his 11th hole of the round).

The defending champion sits one shot ahead of Stephen Gallacher and Thomas Detry. Belgium's Detry, who started his round on the 10th, has just birdied 15 and 16 to go with his one-under achieved on 13.

Henrik Stenson, Matt Kuchar and world No 1 Dustin Johnson are all on -2, while Rory McIlroy's consistent, if unspectacular round, has finally come to life as he has just birdied his 12th hole, after 11 pars beforehand, to go to -1.

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9.50am. Scotland's Stephen Gallacher is out on his own on -3 at the front after a cracking start that has seen him birdie three of the first four holes played. He has pedigree in the UAE, having won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic twice in 2013 and 2014, but he has never triumphed in Abu Dhabi before.

Defending champion Tommy Fleetwood and Matt Kuchar are among a group of eight players who are on -2.

World No 1 Dustin Johnson is -1 after eight holes, while Rory McIlroy is even after getting pars on his first eight holes.

Meanwhile, have a look at this. What a moment for this young competition winner - teeing up alongside McIlroy, Johnson and Fleetwood. And what a shot too!

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9.20am. Early scores on the doors have defending champion Tommy Fleetwood leading the way at 2-under par alongside American debutant Matt Kuchar and Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell.

World No 1 Dustin Johnson is trucking along nicely at 1-under par, but a cold putter has so far cost four-time runner-up Rory McIlroy. He sits at even par after six holes played.

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9am. We are almost two hours into the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, presented by EGA, and both defending champion Tommy Fleetwood and world No 1 Dustin Johnson can be very pleased with their starts.

The pair are both on -2 after four holes, and share the lead with Graeme McDowell.

It has been a steady start for Rory McIlroy as he is had four pars as he begins his quest to win the tournament for a first time.

One player not having a steady start is Phachara Khongwatmai. The Thai played began with a double bogey and after pulling one back with a birdie on the fourth, then hit a triple bogey on the next hole to be +4 over after five holes.

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8.25am. Well, it was good while it lasted for Chris Hanson. After an eagle on his second hole, he has bogeyed the third, and he is one of five players, along with Matt Kuchar, defending champion Tommy Fleetwood, Graeme McDowell, and world No 1 Dustin Johnson to be -1 at the top of the leaderboard in the early stages.

Rory McIlroy found a bunker on his first hole. Andrew Redington / Getty Images
Rory McIlroy found a bunker on his first hole. Andrew Redington / Getty Images

A bit of a rough start for Rory McIlroy as he found a bunker on his opening hole, but the Northern Irishman recovered to make par and he is level through two holes.

Winner of worst start is Frenchman Matthieu Pavon, who is +3 after three holes, with a double bogey on the third doing the real damage.

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8am. We are underway! And there has been plenty of early action. England's Chris Hanson is off to a flier as he

eagled the second to go to -2 and be the (very) early leader.

Defending champion Tommy Fleetwood has made a good start with a birdie on the 10th hole, his first hole of the round having teed off there.

Henrik Stenson and Matt Kuchar have also birdied their first hole as well.

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Good morning. It is here finally. The 2018 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, presented by EGA, begins at 7.20am.

It should be an exciting day of golf here with some of the sport's biggest names teeing off early today.

The trio of Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson and Matt Kuchar are in action from 7.30am as they begin on the 10th tee.

Defending champion Tommy Fleetwood begins his challenge from 7.40am, again off the 10th tee, and he is in elite company as the Englishman is playing alongside world No 1 Dustin Johnson and four-time major winner Rory McIlroy.

The full list of tee times for Round 1 can be found here.

The National will be bringing you live updates throughout the day as events unfold, with reports and insight from John McAuley, Paul Radley and Jon Turner who are all at the course.

Feel free to message us @NatSportUAE with your tweets, thoughts and images as the action goes on.

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