Frenchman Antoine Schwartz played a stunning first round of 10-under par 62 in tough conditions at Dubai Hills Golf Club on Tuesday to open up a five-shot lead in the Troon Series – Dubai Open presented by Turkish Airlines.
Despite playing in a steady afternoon wind, the 29-year-old Parisian went on a birdie binge and was an incredible 11-under par through his first 12 holes. That included nine birdies and an eagle from 30 feet on the par-5 11th hole.
A late bogey on the 16th put paid to his hopes of shooting the first-ever 59 on the MENA Tour, but the 62 was good enough for a five-shot advantage over England’s Benjamin David, Scotland’s Craig Ross and Dutchman Pierre Junior Verlaar (all 67s).
Seven players were tied for fifth place at four-under par 68, including Zane Scotland, the most successful player in the history of MENA Tour with 10 wins.
In the amateur category, England’s Jack Floydd was the best with a two-under par 70, followed by his compatriots Curtis Knipes and Ben Davies (both 71).
Schwartz’s effort matched the lowest round ever on the Tour, previously held by South Africa’s MG Keyser and India’s Rayhan Thomas (both 61, 2017 Dubai Creek Open). It also matched the largest 18-hole lead, which was what Scotland enjoyed at the 2013 Royal Golf Dar Es Salam Open.
Schwartz, who topped the Pro Golf Tour Order of Merit in 2016 and qualified for the European Challenge Tour last year, was two-under par after four holes with birdies on the first and third, before unleashing a flurry of stunning shots over the next eight holes.
The 10-under par 62 round was his best as a professional, bettering an eight-under par 62 four years ago in Austria.
“It was just an unbelievable day. I hit so many good shots today. Everything was just perfect,” said Schwartz, playing his first season on the MENA Tour.
“Of course, you are thinking about a 59. The last five-six holes here are tough, and even more in the windy conditions that we faced almost throughout the day. I just tried to stay aggressive and I even gave myself a couple of chances, but it was not to be.
“I’d love to shoot 62 every day, but this one was very special because the golf course wasn’t playing easy because of the wind.”
As part of MENA Tour’s commitment to enhance the playing opportunity for its members, the champion this week gets an invite to the Slovakia Challenge (July 4-7), on the European Challenge Tour.
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