Some of the best European players on the planet are at the top of the leaderboard at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
The 22-year-old bomber carded a 5-under 67 Thursday, which included a barrage of birdies on the back-nine. Two Frenchmen: Matthieu Pavon and Julien Guerrier also shot 67s.
“I played really well today,” Højgaard said.
“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 are a few chances out there, so it’s just about hitting good shots and staying present, and I feel I did a good job today.”
The 18th hole on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates is a long, dogleg right par-5 that measures 620 yards. A creek bisects the fairway and then circles around the left side of the green—it has produced plenty of drama over the years and certainly made Højgaard sweat on Thursday.
He drove it in the left bunker, laid up well left of the fairway, and faced a 204-yard shot from the rough for his third. He air-mailed it over the green, then needed to make an 8-footer for par to keep a share of the lead. He made it.
Then, one stroke behind Meronk, sit three Ryder Cup stars who are in a tie for seventh.
“Yeah, it was pretty solid basically the whole way,” Hovland said of his opening round.
“Made a nice birdie on the second hole and hit a lot of good shots. I just didn’t make any putts on the front nine until the ninth hole, and then I made another one on 10 and another one on 12.”
The Norwegian was cruising, as he was 4-under and had yet to make a bogey when he stepped onto the 16th tee.
But he drove it into the sand trap right of the fairway, leading to a dropped shot.
Then, at the par-3 17th, Hovland’s tee shot landed on the bridge that leads golfers to the island green.
Hovland rallied to make birdie on the final hole, which got him back to 3-under.
Second-round coverage of the DP World Tour Championship begins on Golf Channel at 2 a.m. ET. Like the PGA Tour’s Tour Championship at East Lake, tee times for the 51-man field reset each day based on where they are on the leaderboard.
Guerrier and Pavon comprise the all-France final pairing for Friday’s round.