x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Michelle Wie digs in around Majlis

The American makes a solid start in her attempt to justify top billing in the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters.

Michelle Wie finished the day three-under par.
Michelle Wie finished the day three-under par.

DUBAI // Michelle Wie made a solid start in her attempt to justify top billing in the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, with the tall American finishing the opening round three shots adrift of early leader Maria Hjorth. Hawaiian-born Wie felt very much at home on her first visit to the UAE, relishing the untypically blustery conditions on the Majlis course.

"It got kind of breezy out there," she said after her three-under par 69. "It was definitely challenging on a couple of holes with the wind blowing the way it did." Wie, who won her first professional tournament this year after bursting on to the golf scene as a precocious schoolgirl talent renowned for her prodigious ball striking, said yesterday was not a day for going for broke. "I just hung in there knowing that I had to grind it out but I thought I was pretty solid. These greens are difficult but hopefully I can make a lot more birdies in the next couple of rounds," she added.

Wie has not had the most thorough of preparations for her Dubai debut and lamented the fact that she would have to spend the rest of the day in her hotel room studying for the exams she is taking at Standford University in the United States. Christina Kim, Wie's teammate in the recently victorious US Solheim Cup team, was in the group behind but had less to be happy about after a level-par 72. The flamboyant Kim, also visiting the country for the first time, was in no mood to waste time revising and expressed a desire to "see the sights and the shopping malls".

Kim's score was five strokes better than her playing partner Anja Monke, the German who won here a year ago. Avoiding the ignominy of a missed cut is the defending champion's first objective when play begins this afternoon. wjohnson@thenational.ae