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World No. 44 Bernd Wiesberger fashioned a 5-under-par 33-34=67 on day one of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, slotting in at tied third after the opening lap and just one behind leaders Tommy Fleetwood and Hideo Tanihara.

Like the front two, Wiesberger took part in last week's EurAsia Cup (won his Sunday singles) and shaking the rust off in Kuala Lumpur appeared to benefit him here. The Austrian has had some big finishes in this event, with a top six in 2015 and tied fourth last year. He's in ideal position for another big week after an afternoon jaunt of Abu Dhabi GC which featured seven birdies against two bogeys. He raced out of the blocks with three birdies in the first four holes (1, 2 & 4) but then went rather flat during the middle part of his round with bogeys at 5 and 13 with only a single birdie inbetween at 8. However, he gathered himself for a late push and pulled to within a shot of the lead with red circles at 15, 16 and 18.
Jan 18 - 9:15 AM

Sam Brazel cashed in on the par 5s and hung up a 5-under-par 34-33=67 in round one of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, good enough for T3 and only a single shot behind joint-leaders Tommy Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara.

Despite only managing T60 on his Abu Dhabi GC debut last year, the Aussie smashed a second-round 65 to lie 10th at halfway so there's something he seems to like about the par 72. Part of the answer could be the long holes as Brazel cashed in with a full set of birdies on the par 5s at 10, 18, 2 and 8. He also splashed red at 13 and 1 whilst dropping his only shot of the day at the short par-4 11th. Brazel won the Hong Kong Open at the end of 2016 but has slipped from a career-high 120th to his current position of 267th.
Jan 18 - 9:01 AM

Making his first start at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, Japan's Hideto Tanihara fired a bogey-free 6-under-par 32-34=66 to take a share of the first-round lead with defending champion Tommy Fleetwood.

Fleetwood had held the lead after the morning session at Abu Dhabi GC but Tanihara came in late in the day to match the Englishman's 66. On a truly international leaderoard, the pair lead by a shot from Paraguay's Fabrizio Zanotti, Belgian Thomas Pieters, Austrian Bernd Wiesberger, England's Ross Fisher and Aussie Sam Brazel. Like Fleetwood, World No. 71 Tanihara played in last week's EurAsia Cup so perhaps had some added sharpness. He certainly showed that in round one with a pair of opening birdies at 12 and 13 along with two more at 15 and 17 to turn in 32. He added another par breaker at the par-5 2nd hole and a walk-off circle at the 9th gave him a share of top spot. "Didn't hit fairways so much but I'm thinking more about playing smart golf and making good putts," said Tanihara later.
Jan 18 - 8:52 AM

An electric finish saw Thomas Pieters join the pack tied second, one swing behind Tommy Fleetwood after a 5-under-par 34-33=67 in round one of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

The Belgian has a distinctly two-tone record at Abu Dhabi GC with a record book that reads MC-T4-T2-MC. But his starter this week indicates that there will be more of the good stuff this time around. He started in serene fashion, marking seven pars alongside two red numbers on the front nine (at 3 and 8). There was an early birdie-bogey exchange on the back nine (at 11 and 12), before he accelerated to the clubhouse with birdie-3 followed by eagle-3 at the par-5 last, his approach leaving him just 10'0". His ability to go low on this track is impressive: this was his fifth sub-68 lap in 13 (he also has four over-par rounds in that sample).
Jan 18 - 8:10 AM

Ross Fisher smoothed a first round 5-under-par 34-33=67 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship which left him T2 and just one behind the clubhouse leader Tommy Fleetwood as the afternoon wave ended their day.

The Englishman seems to have found the secret to the Peter Harradine layout; this was his fifth sub-70 lap in his last six, stretching back to the final round in 2016. The year before that he three times shot circuits in the 60s, yet before that managed it just four times in 18 attempts. On Thursday he plotted an error-free route around Abu Dhabi GC, ticking 2 and 7 on the front nine, then 10, 12 and 16 on the back. "The new driver is working really, really well," he said. "The putter's really been the only thing that can kind of go hot and cold. Putted nicely today. It's not as firm and as fiery as it normally is. Greens definitely a little softer and slower than normal. Rough is still thick but you get lies where you can get a club on it whereas in previous years it's literally just been wedge, hack it out."
Jan 18 - 8:03 AM

Stephen Gallacher hit 2018 running, his 4-under-par 32-36=68 in round one of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship leaving him just two swings back of Tommy Fleetwood's early clubhouse lead.

The Scot was talking a good game earlier in the week, boosted by a 10 day break in Dubai with the family, practice there with putting guru Phil Kenyon, a fresh grip for the greens and a new caddie also. On Thursday it all came together. He opened on the back nine and failed to take advantage of the par-5 tenth, but wasted no time atoning, as he ticked 11, 12 and 13. A fourth par breaker before the turn came at the 562-yard par-5 18th. He briefly moved to 5-under with another red number at the fifth, but he gave the shot back at No. 7. It was comfortably his best first lap in this event; in 11 previous starts he had failed to break 70 and averaged 73.18.
Jan 18 - 4:49 AM

Morning starter Richie Ramsay thrashed a 4-under-par 33-35=68 to lie just two back of Tommy Fleetwood's clubhouse lead in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship at Abu Dhabi GC.

"Probably the best opening round of a season I've ever had," he speculated afterwards and he was right; his previous best was a 68. What he didn't add was that he's only once gone lower on this course and he did so Thursday largely thanks to the front nine. There was a bogey at the fourth, but there were also four birdies, at 2, 5, 8 and 9. The back nine was a more sedate affair, witnessing eight pars and a solitary par breaker at the 18th to close. He had early difficulties with this course, missing the cut on his first three visits. Since then he is 4-for-5 and whilst 2016's T16 is his best return this is the fourth time he has been in the mix. "I've got four new clubs in the bag," he explained. "I love the added distance off the tee. I also got a week's work with my coach Ian Rae in Dubai, that built confidence."
Jan 18 - 4:37 AM

Fabrizio Zanotti posted his career-low round at Abu Dhabi GC, a 5-under-par 35-32=67 which left him just one back of the early clubhouse leader Tommy Fleetwood in round one of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

The Paraguayan has made eight previous visits to the course, only three times made the cut, and only had three sub-70 rounds in the ledger, none of them below 69. As well as he played all Thursday it didn't look as if he would break that mark until he neared the clubhouse. He had marked eight pars and one birdie (at 8) on the front nine, and it looked like more of the same after six pars and a red number at the 14th. But he ticked the par-4 17th and then made a superb eagle-3 at the 562-yard par-5 final hole, a suitable score in front of the eagle-designed clubhouse. On his 20th start in the U.A.E. he is seeking his first top 25 finish.
Jan 18 - 4:20 AM

Tommy Fleetwood's defense of his Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship title began in suitable style Thursday; he landed 18 greens in regulation on his way to grabbing the early clubhouse lead on 6-under-par 33-33=66 at Abu Dhabi GC. UPDATE: Fleetwood finished R1 tied for the lead with Hideto Tanihara and a shot clear of five others.

Twelve months ago the Englishman found 66 of 72 putting surfaces in standard shots and he showed no sign of having lost that handy knack in round one. He opened and closed his first nine (the back) with birdie-4s at 10 and 18, posting birdie-3 at 13 in-between. On the front nine he completed the full set of long hole par breakers (at 2 and 8), with a further tick at the sixth. "I did what you need to do well on this course," he said. "Drove it well, hit good irons, don't be too greedy. Very stress-free for me. The rough is actually thick in places. It will catch you out." It is as if Fleetwood has discovered some magic formula on the Pete Harradine design. Through his first five visits he missed four cuts and broke par just twice in 12 circuits. In his last five rounds he has only once needed more than 67 swings and has never been outside the top six at the end of a round, something which is unlikely to change by day's end.
Jan 18 - 4:05 AM

Rory McIlroy's return from rest and recuperation was a smart one; he cruised to a bogey-free first round of 36-33=69 in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, three swings back of his playing partner, the defending champion and early pacesetter Tommy Fleetwood. UPDATE McIlroy ended R1 in T17, still just three back.

The Northern Irishman's fondness for Abu Dhabi GC has never been a cause for argument (he has finished T3 or better in six of his last seven appearances), but when a world class performer needs to take three months out of the game to soothe his body and mind then questions are inevitable. One shot is not nearly enough evidence, but as a starter a 320-yard biff down his first (the 10th) fairway was a good signal. One round won't answer all the questions either, but this was a fine beginning. The back (his first) nine was Faldo-like; nine pars. On the front nine he made his move at the third, dropping a 12'0" birdie opportunity. At the par-3 seventh his approach left him with no more than 3'0" for the red number and he took it. A birdie-4 followed at No. 8. "I stayed patient," he said. "I missed only one green. Gave myself a lot of chances. Could have been better, but I'm not that far away."
Jan 18 - 3:56 AM

Brandon Hagy has withdrawn ahead of this week's CareerBuilder Challenge, citing a wrist injury. Rick Lamb will take his place in the field.

The Cal-Berkeley product was a pre-tournament WD ahead of the Safeway Open but he returned to post a T18 at the Sanderson Farms Championship. After that, he went T41 and MC at the Shriners and OHL Classic. Gamers should continue to monitor the status of this injury, but he was a pre-tournament commitment so this likely isn't too serious. Hagy will likely be gutted to miss his second California event of the early season. He remains one of the top names to watch in terms of golfers that are ready to find the winner's circle.
Jan 17 - 7:33 PM

Brendan Steele makes his way back home for an eighth appearance at this week's CareerBuilder Challenge.

The California native arrives with two top 10s in his last three visits to the Palm Springs area. That includes a T6 last year which was played on the same three-course rotation that is in play this week. More recently, he disappointed gamers with a 29th-place finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. That's not to say his season is off to a slow start as he currently ranks 8th in the FedExCup standings thanks to a win at the Safeway Open and a T13 at the CIMB Classic. The 34-year-old is coming off a career season and should continue to be targeted in all fantasy formats. That is especially true this week as he pegs it 50 miles from his home town.
Source: PGATOUR.com
Jan 17 - 5:34 PM

World No. 3 Jon Rahm is in La Quinta, California, for the CareerBuilder Challenge and kicks off on La Quinta CC at 8:40 am PST in Round 1, paired with Bubba Watson.

The 23-year-old is the top-ranked player in OWGR -- next-highest is No. 20 Brian Harman -- and the pre-tourney fave outright (8/1). This is his second CBC after T34 last year on 9-under 279 (71-66-70-72). The Arizona State alum owns one TOUR win in 37 career events (32 pro) and defends that title at next week's Farmers in La Jolla. He's bagged seven other top-3 finishes however, including solo 2nd in his last start at the Sentry TOC. The Spaniard has also won two times in 15 career starts on the European Tour, both in 2017, most recently the DP World Tour Championship nine weeks ago, which secured the European Tour Rookie of the Year award and a 3rd-place ranking in the final Race to Dubai standings. Rahm finished 5th in the FedExCup standings last season as a first-time member though not a rookie, and was one of three players to record top 10s in all four Playoffs events, joining Jordan Spieth and Justin Rose.
Source: PGATOUR.com
Jan 17 - 5:19 PM

J.T. Poston will hope to follow in the footsteps of his fellow Sea Island Mafia members as he prepares for this week's CareerBuilder Challenge in La Quinta, California.

Playing out of the conditional category, starts aren't easy to come by for Poston in 2018. He'll need to make the most of this week's opportunity and he's certainly not treating it lightly. In similar fashion to Hudson Swafford last year, Poston has been practicing at PGA WEST for at least a week and a half now, possibly longer, as evidenced by his social media updates. Other than seeing his good buddy Swafford hoist the trophy here last year, he's also recently seen Patton Kizzire win twice already this season. If winning is contagious, then Poston possesses a lot of potential this week in the desert. Other than his friends having success, Poston also arrives with a 23-for-32 career record on the PGA TOUR so he is a solid fantasy option to begin with.
Source: PGATOUR.com
Jan 17 - 5:18 PM

Andrew Putnam missed the cut during his 2015 CareerBuilder Challenge debut but he'll return to the California desert this week for a chance at redemption.

Putnam's debut was spoiled early with a 5-over 77 during R1 while taking on the Nicklaus Private Course. No longer in the rotation, Putnam won't have to worry about that in his return to the Palm Springs area. The Pepperdine product should feel as ease on the West Coast this week. He could certainly use a good week as he currently sits in 31st position on the Web.com Tour graduate reshuffle. With a 13-for-31 career record on the big stage, Putnam is a risk for gamers, but this is a week where we could certainly see him pop.
Source: PGATOUR.com
Jan 17 - 5:13 PM



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