x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Trevor Marshall in charge at Dubai Creek Open

New Zealander produced six birdies in the first round of the Mena Tour event, but Emirati Ahmed Al Musharrekh has work to do after carding a three-over 74.

Emirati golfer Ahmed Al Musharrekh. Delores Johnson / The National
Emirati golfer Ahmed Al Musharrekh. Delores Johnson / The National

Emirati golfer is three over but upbeat on chances

DUBAI // New Zealand’s Trevor Marshall produced six birdies in the first round of the Mena Tour’s Dubai Creek Open yesterday to finish two shots ahead of a pack that includes the year’s hottest player.

On a humid day when 11 players broke par, Marshall was a model of consistency, repeatedly hitting fairways and making clutch putts to register a four-under 67.

“It was one of those days where everything seemed to go well out there,” he said. “I made some good putts early in the round and that kind of set the tone for the day.”

England’s Zane Scotland, the defending Dubai Creek champion and current Order of Merit leader with US$14,000 (Dh51,240) from the first two Mena events held in Morocco, had chances to catch Marshall, but three-putted three times.

He finished with a two-under 69 and is tied for second with four others, including Tommy Mou, who just graduated from the University of Florida.

“I had five birdies, but just couldn’t keep bogeys off the card,” Scotland said. “Barring those three bogeys, I think I played pretty well and can’t complain much about my round.”

Among other notables, Welshman Stephen Dodd, a three-time winner on the European Tour, settled for one-over 72 while England’s Ross McGowan, the winner of the Madrid Masters in 2009, signed for two-over 73.

South Africa’s Tyler Hogarty was four under on the 18th tee, but double-bogeyed the last to lose the early initiative.

“I misjudged my approach shot and landed in water and that spoiled what would be a solid round,” he said.

England’s James Allan leads the amateur division with a two-under 69, one ahead of compatriot Max Williams, the winner of the Order of Merit for amateurs in 2012, and Michael Harradine of Switzerland. UAE’s Ahmed Al Musharrekh shot a three-over par 74.

“I felt a bit rusty, but overall I am satisfied with my day’s work,” said Al Musharrekh, who double-bogeyed the second.

“The tournament is still wide open and I am sure I can fight back into contention,” he said. “The swing changes that I made recently are working well.”

Meanwhile, Rayhan Thomas, 13, a Dubai-based scratch golfer from India, made history of sorts, becoming the youngest player ever to tee off in a Mena event. He posted a nine-over 80 after playing the back nine in even par.

Two rounds remain.

“The course is playing well and there are enough birdie opportunities out there,” said Marshall, who is attached to Sharjah Golf and Shooting Club. “You need to patient.”