Richardson Races Into Early First Round Lead In Dubai Open

Kalem-RichardsonDubai: Australian rookie Kalem Richardson stormed into the early first round lead at the inaugural Dubai Open with a six-under-par 66 on Thursday despite not having a practice round.

The 26-year-old Richardson, who has enjoyed two top-fives in his last five starts, posted one eagle and five birdies at the stunning Els Club Dubai to lead by one shot from Thai prospect Pavit Tangkamolprasert and MENA Tour regular Christopher Canon of England.

Singapore’s veteran Mardan Mamat and Aussie duo Scott Barr and Nathan Holman shot 68s to stay amongst the early leaders in what is the final tournament of the 2014 Asian Tour season. The first round is still in progress with the afternoon session.

Prom Meesawat of Thailand, who needs a win here to finish second on the Order of Merit, signed for a 71 while Filipino star Angelo Que was one better with a 70 after shrugging off a groin strain.

Richardson was delighted his decision to take it easy in Dubai following a five-week tournament stretch paid off with his strong start. “I played pretty solid. It was a pretty crazy day for me. Playing golf in Dubai, it's amazing really, you just look around and see the scenery and you're just enjoying yourself and I’m feeling pretty relaxed being the last event of the year and Christmas being next week,” he said.

“I've been playing solid, just the last couple weeks I've been a bit tired and this week I've taken a different approach and basically haven't done anything for three days. I hadn't actually seen the course, so I was playing blind today. It’s kind of a relax week but it would also be nice to contend again.”

The 25-year-old Pavit, who won this season’s Asian Development Tour Order of Merit following three victories, soared with two eagles, including holing a 170-yard shot with an eight iron on the par five 18th hole.

“The first one (on 13) I hit it from 280 yards to around 10 feet, but on 18 I hit a bad drive into the bunker and then I laid up, and it's 170 to the pin, and I hit an eight iron that went in. It's big confidence from there,” said the Thai.

“I just want to play and gain experience and learn from the players because I think it's quite different from the ADT, the standard and quality here. I’m looking forward to playing full time on the Asian Tour next year.”

Canon, 27, was one of the rare few who stayed bogey-free at the Els Club Dubai, saying an up-and-down par save on the second hole gave him the perfect confidence boost. “I had a plugged lie, so that was good, off to a good start but otherwise, I just played really solid golf. Simple as that,” said the Englishman, who has set his sights on the Asian Tour Qualifying School next month.

With his confidence back after winning the Resorts World Manila Masters last month, the 47-year-old Mardan worked his way into contention with five birdies against a lone bogey. He said the blustery winds made life difficult on club selection.

“Quite happy with that. After the back nine the wind started blowing. The wind doesn't look that strong, but it's a lot of difference. It's almost two, three club difference sometimes against the wind. On three, I had like 177 yards to the pin and I hit a three iron against the wind. It's not easy,” said the Singaporean, who is a four-time winner on the Asian Tour.

“The confidence is back, so I think everything is back in place and I just need to enjoy the golf more.”

The Dubai Open is promoted and organised by golf in DUBAi.