Joachim B. Hansen continued his remarkable run of form in Dubai as he fired an opening 65 to lead by one shot after day one of the 2022 Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic.
The Dane won the AVIV Dubai Championship in November and the following week achieved a second top ten in a Rolex Series event at the DP World Tour Championship.
Now back in Dubai at Emirates Golf Club for a third consecutive Rolex Series start, the two-time DP World Tour winner fired a bogey-free seven under to lead by one from South Africa’s Justin Harding, who was on the 18th when play was ended for the day due to darkness.
Former champion and Major winner Sergio García was then at five under par alongside fellow Spaniard Pablo Larrazábal, 2017 European Number One Tommy Fleetwood, veteran Thai Thongchai Jaidee and Italy’s Andrea Pavan.
Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti was standing on the 18th tee at five under when the hooter sounded, and his group along with Harding’s make up the six players who will have to complete their rounds on day two.
Reigning Tour Number One Collin Morikawa was at four under alongside World Number Five Viktor Hovland, Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Spaniard Sebastián García Rodríguez, Finn Kalle Samooja and South African Brandon Stone but the day belonged to Hansen, who holed out in the twilight on the last.
Already a two-time European Challenge Tour graduate as he tried to establish himself on the European Tour, Hansen topped those Rankings in 2018 and has not looked back, finishing in the top 50 on the DP World Tour Rankings every season since and claiming those first two victories.
JB Hansen: “Pretty good. I kept the ball in play. I didn’t drive it that well. Putted fantastic.
“They are still a bit young (the greens). I think they will be better next year, but they are rolling very nice, very quick. So, it’s not easy.
“A bit of shame there wasn’t anymore tournaments at the end of last year, but try to keep it going. A bit more relaxed. A bit more belief in myself. But still have to play pretty good golf to play here in 2023. So just trying to do my best.”
Sergio García: “It was good. I think obviously got a little bit more challenging the last couple of holes with left-to-right wind into on those two strong holes. Made a couple nice par saves at the right times and kept it in play for the most part. Hit a good amount of greens and when I didn’t, my chipping and putting was there to help me.
“The weather really helps. It’s a really nice golf course and I’ve done well here, so that also helps. It feels like it’s usually a nice to way to start the year. You’re always excited to come back.
“I still have a lot of things that I want to achieve. I want to keep trying to get better, challenge myself to improve and that’s never easy, and as you get older, it’s obviously tougher. You know, work hard and hopefully just keep fighting.”
Tommy Fleetwood: “Played really, really well on the front. Back nine, tricky one really because the par fives, couple of dodgy tee shots, easy to try to over-shape them on those holes. Frustrating to finish like that but happy the way I bounced back on 14. Straightforward shots around the green that you’ve still got to take care of and two great shots into the last.
“Happy to start with a good round and even though I didn’t shoot a really, really low one, just kept it going, and five under is a great start.
“You are going to get chances but only if you hit it well. I’m far from the most experienced player, definitely since I’ve been coming here the last few years, the test is getting harder and harder. I actually really like the way it plays now, massive emphasis on driving the ball, if you don’t drive it in the fairways with the firmness of the greens, especially at the moment, it gets very difficult and almost impossible to score.”
Collin Morikawa: “It was a disappointing finish but I’ve been working Monday through Wednesday, even into yesterday late after the Pro-Am trying to figure things out. When you are thinking about so much, you always have to remember to go play golf.
“I’m happy with four under. Not thrilled, but to see just some things that I’ve been working on just show up on the course was really nice.
“Literally once I tee the ball to once I take the ball out of the cup, I’ve been thinking about everything, trying to figure out what to do. And sometimes that’s all you have and you’ve got to play with it, and that’s what I’m doing. I’m trying to not worry about too much and just show up on the golf course, play golf, and just know what my miss is going to be, and I think that’s the biggest thing.”
Viktor Hovland: “The front nine was kind of a patience test and obviously got off to a great start on the back nine and was able to hit some shots and role in some putts.
“It was a good day but I wish I could have taken advantage of some of the easier holes a little bit better. I think one thing is not putting as much pressure on myself earlier in the week. Like I don’t have to play perfect to shoot a good score. Just kind of believing in my abilities and just not getting as stressed out there on the golf course.
“Of course I’d love to (get to World Number One) but I’m going to have fun with this game regardless if it happens or not. It’s more about playing well and trying to lift some trophies, and if it comes, it comes, and if not, I’m sure I’ll be happy regardless.”