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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Jamie Elson in command on Day 1 of Mena Tour Championship

Englishman has one hand on Order of Merit crown as he goes into second day with one-shot lead

Jamie Elson remains on course to land the Mena Tour Order of Merit crown after finishing Day 1 of the season’s final event with a one-shot lead.

The Englishman, who knows placing in the top three at the Mena Tour Championship will seal the overall title, fired an opening-round, six-under par 66 at Al Zorah Golf Club in Ajman on Monday.

Elson is trailed in the race for the Order of Merit by second-placed Luke Joy, who finished his first round four shots worse off. Sweden’s Fredrik From and England’s Andrew Marshall have both a shot at the main trophy, but carded matching 70s also.

Elson remains in pole position, though, and goes into Tuesday second round one shot ahead of South African Tyler Hogarty. Last year’s winner of the event, Hogarty opened with an impressive 67.

“I started off well, making three birdies through six holes and that kind of set the tone for the round,” said Elson, who struggled last time out in Kuwait to finish tied-34th. “I felt in complete control of my game, which was good. Missed a couple of putts here and there, but overall played good golf.

“If you’re playing well, this course can offer you plenty of scoring opportunities. I made just one bogey, which shows I was pretty accurate with my game out there. I had a bad week in Kuwait that probably helped me focus better.

"My preparations for this week were certainly much better. Hopefully, I can keep the momentum going all the way through.”

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Seeking to defend the title he won 12 months ago in Oman, Hogarty got off to a strong start, mixing eight birdies with three bogeys.

Speaking afterwards, he said: “Played some good, solid golf and very happy with my day’s efforts. I began with a birdie and finished with a birdie, which was quite pleasing.”