Fitzpatrick leads congested Dubai Desert Classic field

Matt Fitzpatrick leads by a single shot from eight players in a congested leaderboard after a competitive opening round of the Dubai Desert Classic.

The Englishman carded eight birdies and a solitary bogey to sign for a seven-under-par 65 in a fine start at the Emirates Golf Club on Thursday.

Sergio Garcia and Bryson DeChambeau are among those in the mix in joint second, yet their early start meant they were forced to watch on as numerous players made a tilt for the lead.

It was Fitzpatrick who finished with a flourish of four straight birdies to record his lowest first-round effort since winning the 2015 British Masters.

“It was obviously a great finish to the round,” Fitzpatrick said. “A couple of things that I’ve been doing in the off-season look to have paid off a little bit.”

Callum Shinkwin, Romain Langasque, Matthieu Pavon, Kalle Samooja, Thongchai Jaidee and Scott Hend all join 2017 winner Garcia and DeChambeau in second.

DeChambeau was not entirely content with his own play, though, saying: “I didn’t feel like I was hitting it anywhere near my best.

“I was able to recover in a couple of situations. I made a couple of long putts and then got up and down on six, which was huge.”

Defending champion Li Haotong and Ian Poulter are among nine players a shot further back, while Tommy Fleetwood is amid a cluster of players on four under.