Sergio Garcia sparkles to share early lead at Dubai Desert Classic

Spaniard, who won around the Majlis Course in 2017, fired a 5-under-par 67 in Round 1

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Sergio Garcia sparkled in the sunshine as he raced to an early share of the lead on the opening day of the Dubai Desert Classic.

The Spaniard, who won around the Majlis Course in 2017, fired a 5-under-par 67 in Round 1.

That score was matched among the early starters by his compatriot Pablo Larrazabal.

Three players finished their 18 holes within a shot of the lead, including Collin Morikawa, the world No 2.

The American had appeared to be on course for something rather more significant than that, after he raced out of the blocks following his 8am start with Rory McIlroy and Bernd Weisberger.

Playing the back nine first, Morikawa had a makeable putt for eagle at 18 which would have given him a 7-under total of 30 for his opening nine.

Morikawa did make birdie, but his round faltered from then on, as he ended up signing for a 4-under-par 68.

His cooling off coincided with temperatures rising at Emirates Golf Club.

Both Garcia and Larrazabal suggested the warmth had something to do with their good form around the fairways.

“The weather really helps,” said Garcia, whose win in 2017 famously prefaced him winning the Masters at Augusta.

“It's a really nice golf course and I've done well here, so that also helps. It's usually a nice to way to start the year. You're always excited to come back.”

Larrazabal won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in 2014, and acknowledged the weather in the Middle East suits him, too.

“What are you wearing?” Larrazabal said. “You're wearing a shirt. You're not wearing a jacket.

“That's it. I play good with a shirt on. I don't like to wear jackets and all that stuff.”

The greens on the Majlis have been remodelled ahead of this tournament, and Larrazabal said he is a fan of the changes.

“This is my 14th time that I have played around here and these greens, they never treat me properly,” he said.

“So I'm glad they change the greens, and they run perfect. Obviously, they are new, so the ball is bouncing a little too much.

“But the job they did making some new pin positions, the way they shaped those greens now, they are much better, and I'm glad they did it, and I have to congratulate them.”

Updated: January 27, 2022, 10:55 AM