Abu Dhabi Golf Championship 2010 Masters Odds: PAUL LAWRIE had fierce family rivalry to thank for his scorching start at the Abu Dhabi Championship yesterday.
The Scot soared to just a shot off the lead with a flawless six-under 66 – his best opening round for more than two years.
And Lawrie put his stunning show down to having spent the last fortnight locked in battle with his two golf-mad sons on a nine-hole course in Dubai.
That preparation helped the 1999 Open champ reel off six birdies on the National course yesterday to sit among nine players in a share of fourth, while Ian Poulter tops the board on seven under with fellow Englishman Richard Bland and South Africa’s Keith Horne.
Lawrie said: “We were over in Dubai with the kids for nearly two weeks and they have a nine-hole course at Jebel Ali so I played a lot of golf over the festive break.
“I didn’t practise and just warmed up playing nine holes each day with Craig and Michael – they are both extremely keen.
“Craig is 14 and plays off eight and Michael, who’s 11, is down to 14-handicap so they are both very handy. It’s tough to beat them but I did!
“So I’m not surprised to have made a great start because I have played a lot of golf with my two boys and hit the ball really well. It’s just nice to be back.”
Lawrie’s score was his lowest first-round tally since he began the 2007 Dunhill Links Championship with a 66.
And the highlight came with a great escape at the par-five eighth, which he was playing as the 17th.
Lawrie found a fairway bunker with his tee shot then slipped while playing his three wood out of the sand. The ball veered far right into a waste area from where he managed to get up and down for birdie.
Joint leader Poulter saved the best for last with a brilliant 70-foot downhill putt on 18.
He said: “I hit it probably 10 feet too hard but it was on line and lucky enough it hit the back of the hole then popped up and dropped.
“I wasn’t expecting to come out quite as fast as that after a five-week break but I will certainly take it.”
Alongside Lawrie on six under are Alvaro Quiros and Sergio Garcia plus world No. 10 Rory McIlroy.
Check out the leader board and full rankings list at Golf Masters Betting