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Published: Fri, January 19, 2018
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Desert fox Stephen Gallacher makes early raid in Abu Dhabi

Desert fox Stephen Gallacher makes early raid in Abu Dhabi

On Thursday, 13-year-old Oscar Murphy from Northern Ireland got the chance of a lifetime in the challenge, going up against Dustin Johnson, Tommy Fleetwood and his favorite golfer and fellow countryman, Rory McIlroy.

Interestingly, Johnson "kinda" agreed with Woods' suggestion that pros ought to use reduced-distance balls with the same specifications before apparently altering his views ahead of the Abu Dhabi event.

Fleetwood's serene progress continued with a well-crafted four at the long eighth, where McIlroy moved to three under following a good putt on the previous green, and the European pair both closed out bogey-free rounds with a par at the ninth as Johnson dropped his fourth shot to slip six shots behind the Englishman. "It felt like I did what you need to do well around this golf course which is drive it well, hit your irons but you can't really be too greedy all the time". My pace putting was really good. 'But even when you think you're doing some good stuff in practice you never really know until you get out there and play alongside the likes of Dustin and Tommy with a card in your hand.

Japan's Hideto Tanihara, had the honour of joining the defending champion at the top of the star-studded leader-board at the end of day one.

"It's a tough course here. Aoki, he won on the European Tour, and I'm just trying to focus on winning on the European Tour". "That's the key today". I played really well from start to finish.

Another five players are one stroke back, including Fabrizio Zanotti, Ross Fisher, Thomas Pieters, Sam Brazel and Bernd Wiesberger. Matt Kuchar was also on level-par while Justin Rose went one better with a 71.

"Yeah, it was nice", said McIlroy. "I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage". But I did well.

Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

Meanwhile, the Championship invitees got their campaigns underway, flying the flag high for the UAE.

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