South Africa’s Shaun Norris made a remarkable start to the 2020 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA with an opening round 64 as he shares the lead with Renato Paratore from Italy on eight under, writes ANDRE HUISAMEN.
Norris had a phenomenal year on the Japanese Golf Tour last season, where he finished second on the Order of Merit list. His excellent results have upped him to the third-highest ranked South African in the world and a lot of expectation has been placed on him heading into the European Tour events of this year.
The 37-year-old was part of the second batch of players who teed off later on Thursday, and he didn’t waste any time to hit his straps as he made birdies on the 2nd and 3rd holes to kickstart his brilliant round.
A drop-shot on the 7th didn’t break his rhythm, though, and he responded immediately with four consecutive birdies as he started to make a massive surge up the leaderboard.
Three more birdies to close out the back nine with an excellent 31 meant Norries tied Paratore for the early clubhouse lead.
The Italian hit the ground running early in the morning with his 64, which also included only one bogey.
World No 1 Brooks Koepka made a solid return to the game after a three-month layoff due to a knee injury. Playing alongside Tommy Fleetwood and defending champion Shane Lowry, the American finished the day in T3 on six under par, while South Africa’s Zander Lombard is part of a group of six players a further stroke back.
New SA Open champion Branden Grace also made a promising start with a round of 68, which included five birdies and one bogey.
Added to that, 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen is in a good position to make a move on Friday after his round of 69.