Hansen hits the heights again in Dubai – Articles – Rolex Series
Joachim B. Hansen continued his remarkable run of form in Dubai by throwing an opening 65 to lead by a shot after day one of the Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic 2022.
The Dane won the AVIV Dubai Championship in November and the following week achieved his second top ten finish in a Rolex Series event at the DP World Tour Championship.
Now back in Dubai at the Emirates Golf Club for a third consecutive Rolex Series start, the two-time DP World Tour winner had no blemishes as he dropped to seven under to lead by one from South Africa’s Justin Harding, who was the 18th when play was over for the day due to darkness.
Former champion Sergio Garcia and his compatriot Pablo Larrazábal were then five under alongside 2017 European number one Tommy Fleetwood, veteran Thai Thongchai Jaidee and Italian Andrea Pavan.
Paraguayan Fabrizio Zanotti was standing on the 18th tee at five under when the horn sounded, and his group along with Harding’s are the six players who will have to complete their rounds on day two.
Reigning European number one Collin Morikawa was down to four cents alongside world number five Viktor Hovland, Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Spaniard Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez, Finn Kalle Samooja and South African Brandon Stone, but the day belonged to Hansen, who dug at dusk the last .
Already a two-time European Challenge Tour graduate as he tried to establish himself on the European Tour, Hansen topped those rankings in 2018 and didn’t look back, finishing in the top 50 of the DP World. Tour Rankings every season since and claiming those first two wins.
“It’s a bit of a shame there were no more tournaments at the end of last year, but I’m trying to keep going,” he said.
“I’m a little more relaxed, a little more confident. But I still have to play pretty good golf to play here in 2023. So I’m just trying to do my best.
“I kept the ball in play. I didn’t fly it very well, but I made a fantastic putt.”
Hansen got up and down on the second par four and did the same from the sand on the next par five before putting a three-foot tee shot on third and making a 23-footer on fourth for four birdies in a row .
A fine pitch in the tenth earned him a share of the lead and he followed it up with a long right left, with another excellent back-and-forth on the par-five 13th giving him a two-stroke lead.
I kept the ball in play. I didn’t drive it very well but I put fantastic
Harding’s iron play on the front nine was exceptional and he made the most of chances inside 15 feet on the first, second, fourth and seventh before drilling a 50-footer on the eighth to share the lead .
A bogey the next day helped Hansen pull away, but Harding got up and down from the sand in the tenth before another excellent two-footed iron shot on the 17th hit him within one.
Garcia had set the target in the morning, drilling from 16 feet on the 12, birdie from the sand the next day and putting in a five-foot approach on the 17.
An exquisite second in the second created another gain before a towering five-foot iron in the fifth put it to five under, where he was joined by his fast-finishing compatriot.
Larrazábal birdied three and bogeyed twice to turn 34 but added two-putt wins on the tenth and 13th before putting in a nice four-foot approach on the 17th and up and down on the last.
Pavan did not make a weekend for 12 months between August 2020 and 2021, ending the 2021 season with five more missed cuts.
But a tie for 25th place last week was his best finish since the 2019 Italian Open and he birdied six and just one bogey as his 2022 resurgence continued.
Fleetwood sandwiched smart approaches in the fourth and fifth with long putts in the second and eighth but dropped a shot on the 13th before hitting back with another fine approach on the 14th and a two-putt birdie on the last.
At 52, Jaidee got into senior golf but showed he could still mix it up with the young guns, staying unblemished, while Zanotti had a bogey and six birdies in his 17 holes.
Morikawa had led by three to seven under but dropped three shots in his final four holes to sit a shot ahead of a group including former world number ones Adam Scott and Lee Westwood.