France’s Victor Perez carded a five-under-par 67 to take a one-shot lead in the first round of the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour’s season finale, in Dubai on Thursday.
Perez, 28, sank six birdies, offset by a bogey on the par-three fourth at the Jumeirah Golf estates’ Earth Course, to lead England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick, South African Erik Van Rooyen and Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre who were tied for second.
A closely-contested first round saw Perez use a fairway wood to birdie the 14th from off the green before taking the lead at the 17th when he drained a long birdie putt from the edge of the green.
“As always on these tough courses, tough pins today, they really put up a good setup with some of the pins,” Perez said.
“It was just about holing a few good putts, driving the ball well, doing everything fairly well but obviously making a few putts.
“In the position I’m in, I have nothing to lose. I have everything to gain. So for me it’s really a going-for-it mentality that I have to keep for four rounds… It’s a matter of making a lot of birdies.”
Four golfers — Englishmen Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton, Germany’s Martin Kaymer and Finalnd’s Sami Valimaki — were tied for fifth a shot further back.
Patrick Reed, the 2018 Masters champion who is looking to become the first American to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai title, is three shots behind Perez.