Round 01 of the fourth edition of the Mercedes-Benz International Pro-Am at Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club in the UAE got underway in beautiful conditions, with the PGA of Sweden’s Filip Eriksson leading the way.
Eriksson shot a blemish-free round of 64 (-6) and was one of only two players to finish under par for the day.
“It was a great day for me,” said Eriksson. “I actually worked here for three months last year so I know parts pretty well. I had a good round [in practice] yesterday, and then today was very solid… plus I had a fun group to play with so that helps.
“The new front nine is tougher than last year and much better. I managed to make two long putts so that was pretty good. I know the back nine really well having had around 100 rounds here last year!”
The Swede was quickly into his stride, birdieing two of the first four holes, and then going on to birdie the par-three 8th, reaching the turn in a three-under 32.
He began the back nine in the same tantalising form, making birdie at both the par-five 10th and the par-four 14th, before securing his final birdie on the 17th. Eriksson’s superb round leaves him three shots clear of his nearest challenger and gives him a nice buffer over the rest of the 28 Professional-strong field.
His closest pursuer, and the only other player to score under par for the day, is Mark Ridley of the PGA of Great Britain & Ireland who is three shots back.
Unlike Eriksson, Ridley got his round off to a slow start, bogeying the par-four 2nd. However, he soon got back on track and birdied the 4th, 5th and 7th to finish the front nine in 33 (-2). Ridley’s back nine consisted of two birdies and one bogey to complete his round on a three-under par 67.
There is a four-way tie for third as Nicolo Gaggero (PGA of Italy), Alex Wrigley (PGA of GB&I), Steven Munro (PGA of UAE) and Darren Bragg (PGA of GB&I) all shot rounds of even par (70).
The Team Pro-Am Competition is a much more closely fought contest as the first three teams are separated by only three points. Team Munro, made up of Professional Steven Munro and amateurs Robert Horridge, Hye Sook Jee and Sukura Kawakami, have a slender advantage after finishing the day with 90 points (-20), however, hot on their heels are team Bragg (89 points) and team Nesbit (88 points).
To find out more about Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting & Golf Club visit www.aesgc.ae.