x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Peter Hanson puts in his 'best ever round' at Earth Course

The Swede heads the leaderboard by one-shot after the first day of Dubai World Championship.

Peter Hanson tees off on the 18th hole of the Dubai World Championship yesterday. He leads by a shot after the first round.
Peter Hanson tees off on the 18th hole of the Dubai World Championship yesterday. He leads by a shot after the first round.

DUBAI // Peter Hanson equalled the Earth Course record to take a one-shot lead into today's second round of the Dubai World Championship.

And the Swede said his Ryder Cup experience from a year ago laid the foundation for yesterday's "best ever round".

If he had managed to sink a tricky three-foot putt at the 18th hole for birdie, then the 34 year old would have gone one better than his eight-under par score of 64, which matched single-round course record shared by Lee Westwood and Ross Fisher.

Hanson, who has not managed a win this year, finished one shot ahead of Scotland's Paul Lawrie, with Rory McIlroy in third place on six under.

And when he reflected on what was an outstanding display of golf in one of the biggest tournaments on the calendar, Hanson said that playing in the Ryder Cup last October at Celtic Manor in Wales, when he helped Europe beat the USA, gave him the self belief that was in evidence yesterday.

"Just being in that group of players, such as Lee and Rory, really helped me as someone who was last to qualify for the team," Hanson said. "Watching Lee in practice was a check on where I was at that moment and it really helped me this year.

"It showed me what needed to improve, how to get better and get into a really top position in the world."

Hanson looked like a top player yesterday, although he said that his first round would be difficult to top.

"I don't think I have ever played as well before," the Swede said. "My ball striking was very pure and my first five birdies were all tap-ins. I had no idea about the course record but it's a terrific start."

Lawrie, the 1999 British Open champion, fired a bogey free 65 in his seven-under par total.

The Scot is currently 56th on the Race to Dubai and has struggled for results in recent times - March's victory at the Andalusia Open was his first in nine years - which meant that this was his first showing at this event.

And he is delighted to find some form so sons Craig and Michael can be proud of their father.

"My boys are 16 and 12 now, and I don't want them seeing dad as a poor player," Lawrie said. "They were giving me a bit of stick that it had been nine years since my last win [in the 2002 Wales Open], which is fair enough.

"They were very young when I won in Wales all that time ago. They are both keen golfers themselves, work hard on their game and it would be cool if one or both made it on to tour.

"Craig, the eldest, is talking about turning pro and plays off scratch and he beat me recently for the first time. Michael plays off five and they are both miles ahead of me when I was their age."

A flurry of birdies, six of them in 10 holes during the middle of his round, set up what was an excellent afternoon's work.

"It didn't feel like nine years since I had won," he said. "I wasn't desperate and it's not something I struggled with. My ambition here is the same as it is at every tournament; I am here to win."

ncameron@thenational.ae