It was neither Rory McIlroy, nor Henrik Stenson or Danny Willett for that matter, who was anywhere near the top at the end of the first day of the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai. It was Lee Westwood, winner of this event in 2009, who rose to the top and fired an opening six-under 66 with seven birdies against one bogey.
He was a shot ahead of Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts and Frenchman Julien Quesne.
McIlroy struggled through the front nine in three-over and added a fourth bogey on 10th. If three birdies saved him further embarrassment in the closing four holes, he also paid a visit into the lake and then rolled up trousers enroute to a double bogey on 16th. His 75 places him Tied-55th with only three others carding worse than him.
Stenson, who features in next week’s Hero World Challenge, came into this week looking at rounding off a magnificent year with his second win in Dubai, had just one each of bogey (on the fourth) and a birdie (on seventh) in his even par 72 that saw him at Tied-33rd.
Masters winner, Danny Willett was only slightly better off at one-under 71 that included a patch of three birdies between fifth and eighth. He had one other birdie on 11th and three bogeys to be placed Tied-24th. Westwood has nine top three finishes in Major Championships in the last decade.
One of those was a tie for second at this year’s Masters Tournament and this week a win could push him into Top-5 of European Tour rankings, but get him a healthy 24th European Tour title. Dutchman Joost Luiten and Italian Francesco Molinari were then at four under alongside Spaniard Sergio Garcia.