Nicolai Højgaard produced a back-nine birdie blitz to join French duo Julien Guerrier and Matthieu Pavon at the top of the leaderboard after day one of the season-ending DP World Tour Championship.
The Ryder Cup star was one over after six holes and level par as he made the turn at Jumeirah Golf Estates but reeled off five birdies in six holes to sign for a 67 and get to five under.
Earth course debutant Guerrier went bogey-free at the fifth and final Rolex Series event of the season to take the early lead, before in-form countryman Pavon finished birdie-birdie to join him with a blemish-free effort of his own.
Dane Højgaard finished fourth over the Earth course in his only previous appearance at this event in 2021, catapulting himself into the top ten on that season’s final Rankings.
Seven top tens in the 2023 season helped him earn his place in the European Team that defeated the United States in Rome and he had his best finish of the campaign finishing second at last week’s Nedbank Championship.
Pavon recently claimed his first DP World Tour title at the acciona Open de España presented by Madrid and has since added two further top 20s in his last three events, while Guerrier is making his first appearance at the season-ending event.
Another Frenchman in Antoine Rozner was a shot off the lead at four under par alongside Swede Jens Dantorp and Pole Adrian Meronk. Højgaard’s Ryder Cup team-mates Tommy Fleetwood, Viktor Hovland and Robert MacIntyre were a shot further back at three under alongside South Korea’s Tom Kim.
Due to the weather forecast, round two of the DP World Tour Championship will be a two-tee start, U draw on Friday from 11:00am local time.
Round one of the G4D Tour Season Finale @ DP World Tour Championship will be played over nine holes starting from the 10th tee at 10:15am.
Nicolai Højgaard: I played really well today. Drove it well from hole No. 1 to 18, even though it was a little bit of a circus on 18, felt really solid. Got on a run. You know there’s a few chances out there, so it’s just about keep hitting good shots and stay present, and I feel I did a good job today.
There’s a lot of drivers out there but there are certain pins where you want full shots, especially with the firmness of the greens now. They are quite firm and you need some spin. You need — the fairway is premium, but I feel like this is a driver golf course and I feel like I hit it pretty good today.
(The Ryder Cup) was huge. Spending time with the best players in the world, fighting for a common goal was amazing, and just being around those guys, seeing what they do, what do I do different, what do I need to work on. It gave me a lot of confidence going into the last end of the season here. You want to play with those guys but you also want to beat them.
Matthieu Pavon: That’s a nice feeling. That’s the longest putt I made today (on 18), so it’s always nice to end like this. It’s such a nice hole to finish with. Very pleased with today.
Yeah, it has been some good weeks so far. Nedbank was good. Just didn’t close it the way I wanted on Sunday, and obviously this round was very solid. I think the golf course is less scary off the tee to be fair. It looks very wide, even if some of the fairways can be tight at some points. Just continued to play well today.
To be fair, the only weight which is really released is now I know with my team, we were working on the right way. For sure, I had a great, solid year, many Top 10s but I was missing something to get my first victory, and I finally got it in Madrid.
Julien Guerrier: I just tried to be really disciplined because I don’t really know this course. My caddie has more experience on this course than me, so I just listen to him. I try to stay in the zone and I did it correctly.
It’s a really tough course. It’s very demanding from the tee because if you are in the rough, it’s really difficult to hit the greens. I was struggling during my practise round to find a way to shape around the green, and then even the wedge shots, it’s not easy, so I tried to manage that.