Local resident MG Keyser shot a course-record 61 on the first day of the Mena Tour’s Dubai Creek Open on Monday, with marquee name Darren Clarke seven shots worse off in a tie for 12th.
South African Keyser, who lives in Dubai, had a day to remember around Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club, carding nine birdies and eagle and even a bogey, blitzing the back nine in 8-under par. He leads by three from England’s Stuart Archibald and Sweden’s Fredrik From.
“Played a good, solid round and didn’t make any stupid mistakes out there,” Keyser said. “Just kind of everything fell together: ball striking, putting. I'm really enjoying my golf, especially for the last couple of months. The course is in great condition with greens running so true and so perfect, which makes putting a little bit easier.”
Keyser’s superb run eclipses by two a trio of names who had previously held the course record, with European Tour stalwarts Lee Westwood and Clarke among them. The 2011 British Open champion, the Mena Tour’s patron, did not fair quite as well as Keyser on his event debut, though, opening with a 3-under par 68.
Clarke traded a birdie and a bogey on his front nine to go out in level-par 35, but picked up a shot on the 12th before closing with back-to-back birdies.
Meanwhile, defending champion Rayhan Thomas did not enjoy his greatest day at his home course. The Dubai-based amateur, who last year made history by becoming the first non-professional to win on the Mena Tour, posted a frustrating 1-under 70, with four bogeys and five birdies.
“I was off to a slow start with two bogeys in the first three holes, thanks to a cold putter,” said Thomas, who was paired with Clarke and From.
“Though I played the back nine at two-under, it wasn’t good enough. I need to shoot at least six or seven under to haul myself back into contention.
“It was fun playing with Darren. He is such a great guy. He really hit the ball well, but just couldn’t hole anything.”
Elsewhere, England’s Zane Scotland, a two-time winner of the event, had to settle for a 73, while the UAE’s Ahmed Al Musharrekh carded a 3-under 68.