David Horsey fired a superb course record of 61 to top the opening round leaderboard at the 2021 Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers.
The 35-year-old Englishmen’s round sparked into life in spectacular fashion on the back nine with 7 birdies to come home in just 28 shots - finishing on 9-under. The world No 282 missed the cut in his previous two visits to Saudi Arabia and struggled in his first two tournaments of the year in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
“It's a shock actually. I've been playing rubbish the last couple weeks,” admitted Horsey after his round at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC).
“I had a conversation with a pal back home last night, talking a few things through and suggested something that I work on away from the tournament. Knowing me, I thought, well, it can't get any worse, so I may as well try it and here we are! I didn't really feel like I missed many shots. I holed a couple of nice, lengthy putts as well and it all adds up to 61”
Scotland’s Stephen Gallagher (-8) is one shot adrift of Horsey and birdied five of his last six holes with Bernd Wiesberger (-6) a further two shots back after a bogey free 64.
US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau is the leading name of the chasing pack on 5 under. The American big hitter used his significant length and putting to good use at the 7010-yard layout surrounded by the pristine coastline of the Red Sea
“Definitely very pleased. I know I'm putting well. I know that I can hit it far out here I'm disappointed it's not as far as I would like it but once I got out there and was hitting some wayward shots I tried to try to rein it in and control it better,” said DeChambeau.
Saudi Arabia’s solo professional golfer Othman Almulla impressed during the challenging windy afternoon conditions for a round of 71 that included four birdies to give him hope of making the weekend cut.
“I played really well and had great front nine,” said Almulla. “All day I felt hit some really good shots – and even at the end I was bit unlucky with good shots but with the wind and firm greens it was tricky. I like where my game is at and how I feel about my game. It’s a privilege to be here and just want to enjoy it tomorrow.”
World Number 1 Dustin Johnson, 2020 Race to Dubai winner Lee Westwood and last week’s Dubai winner Tyrrell Hatton are all three under - with the likes of Tommy Fleetwood and Phil Mickelson one shot further back.
The $3.5million Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers has welcomed more than 130 of the world’s best players competing at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in KAEC.
It is being broadcast live on KSA Sports through the weekend until its conclusion on Sunday.