x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Young Turner's first page likely to be a Classic if all goes well

Matthew Turner, one of the brightest amateur prospects in the UAE and a member of Emirates Golf Club, has an outstanding chance of making the halfway cut.

DUBAI // Matthew Turner, one of the brightest amateur prospects in the UAE and a member of Emirates Golf Club, has an outstanding chance of making the halfway cut after a posting a tremendous first-round score of two under par. "I never felt so relaxed out there," Turner said after making his second appearance in the Desert Classic for which he qualified as leading amateur.

"I was nervous on the first tee but when my drive went straight I was on my way and I enjoyed it out there." Englishman Turner, 17, who has been hovering in the last three months between plus one and plus two handicap, was given a big lift by a chip in from 20 yards for an eagle three at the 10th. That was the perfect way to repair the damage inflicted by a double-bogey at the ninth. He also recorded four birdies on what he reported to be an enjoyable round in the company of touring professionals Alvaro Velasco, of Spain, and India's Shiv Kapur who he praised for making him so welcome on his home course.

Turner, who missed the cut on his Classic debut a year ago, was delighted with his score of 70 on a course that he once covered in 66 strokes. "If I can do the same tomorrow then I expect that I will qualify comfortably," he said. "And there is no reason why I can't repeat what I've done today. Staying relaxed will be the key. I used hardly anything but driver off the tee today and it worked for me, so I will adopt the same aggressive approach tomorrow."

Khalid Yousef, is the other amateur in the field having received an invitation to compete for the second successive year. The Emirati was 10 holes into his fog-delayed opening round and stood at one over par when play was halted for the day. Jamie Wood, the resident professional at the Majlis, won the pros qualifying heat to earn the right to compete yesterday. He also was a victim of bad light and was at level par through eight holes when forced off the course to resume this morning. Completing the quartet of local hopes was Ross Bain, the Scottish professional who was also among the late starters.

Bain, who has completed 10 years on the Asian Tour and has hopes of progressing to the European Tour, has much to do today to survive for the weekend. He is three over par after eight holes. wjohnson@thenational.ae