South Africa

Perez leads in Dubai, SA’s Van Rooyen a shot off the pace

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Victor Perez got his attempt to become the first French golfer to end the season as European number one off to a confident start by taking a one-shot lead after the opening round of the DP World Tour Championship.

The 28-year-old carded a five-under 67 at the Jumeirah Golf Estates Earth Course on Thursday.

However, a host of big names are on his trail.

Matthew Fitzpatrick, Robert MacIntyre and Erik Van Rooyen are all one shot back after four under par rounds of 68.

Two-time Major winner Martin Kaymer, 2017 Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton and Sami Valimaki are a shot further back.

Meanwhile, 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed, looking to become the first American to top the Race to Dubai rankings after starting the week in first place, is also well in contention after birdieing the last hole for a two-under 70.

“In the position I’m in, I have nothing to lose. I have everything to gain. So for me it’s really a going-for-it mentality that I have to keep for four rounds,” said Perez, the 2019 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship winner.

“Obviously you still have to play proper golf and hit the right shots and sometimes take your medicine, but again, I have really nothing to lose, and it’s a matter of making a lot of birdies.”

Leading first round scores in the European Tour’s DP World Tour Championship at the Jumeirah Golf Estates, United Arab Emirates on Thursday (GBR/IRL unless stated, par 72):

67 – Victor Perez (FRA)

68 – Robert Macintyre, Erik Van Rooyen (RSA), Matthew Fitzpatrick

69 – Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Sami Valimaki (FIN), Martin Kaymer (GER)

70 – Callum Shinkwin, Jazz Janewattananond (THA), Garrick Higgo (RSA), Jamie Donaldson, Sean Crocker (USA), Gavin Green (MAS), Patrick Reed (USA), Henrik Stenson (SWE), Lee Westwood

Selected:

72 – Danny Willett, Collin Morikawa (USA)

73 – Graeme McDowell

74 – Ian Poulter

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