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Charl Schwartzel Stays Atop European Golf After Round One in Abu Dhabi

Charl Schwartzel Stays Atop European Golf After Round One in Abu Dhabi

Many, this column included, chalked up Charl Schwartzel’s win last week at the Joburg Open as mostly the product of a weak field, but it could be he’s simply on top of his game as Schwartzel shot an 8-under 64 to grab a one shot lead at the star studded Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

Schwartzel’s nine birdie, one bogey round gives him a one shot edge over three-time major winner Padraig Harrington.  The South African birdied all but one of the par-5’s and has been laser like with his irons over his last three competitive rounds.

After a win last week and a great start in Abu Dhabi, it makes sense the bookmakers have Schwartzel as their co-favourite at (9-2).

Martin Kaymer, the pre-tournament favourite, joins Schwartzel at (9-2) as he got off to a decent start with a 5-under round on Thursday.

Kaymer’s round could have been a whole lot better, but he had trouble finding the fairway at times in round one, most notably on the par-5’s, which should be easy birdie holes for the German.

It’s easily conceivable he could be tied with Harrington, or even Schwartzel, if he was more effective on the long holes as he made just a single birdie on the Abu Dhabi Golf Club’s four par-5’s.

Graeme McDowell comes in third with the books after he beat Kaymer by a shot and is 6-under, two back of the lead.

If he can pick up tomorrow where he left off on the back nine, McDowell could be very dangerous in round two as the Northern Irishman blazed to the finish in round one with five straight birdies.

With a strong finish to his career season in 2010 and his unbelievable finishing stretch yesterday, it’s more than a bit of a head scratcher why McDowell’s slotted behind Kaymer, but that’s the case with ‘G-Mac’ at (5-1).

Co-leader Padraig Harrington comes in at (8-1) which is a reasonable spot considering he has fallen off the level that saw him win three majors over 2007 and 2008.

Harrington didn’t win in 2010, although he did have five top-10’s.  The troubling thing about his year in 2010 was his habit of shooting big numbers on the weekend, especially on Sunday.


I never learned anything from a match that I won  - Bobby Jones

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