Newly engaged Sergio Garcia soars to early lead at Omega Dubai Desert Classic

Newly engaged Sergio Garcia soars to early lead at Omega Dubai Desert Classic

Euro Tour

Newly engaged Sergio Garcia soars to early lead at Omega Dubai Desert Classic

Dubai, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – The prospect of married life certainly agrees with Sergio Garcia. It hasn’t hampered his chances of winning the $2.65 million Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

The recently engaged Spaniard soared to the top of the leaderboard Thursday with a 7-under 65 around the Emirates Course. Garcia, who got engaged to girlfriend Angela Akins last month, takes a one-shot lead into the second round over Chile’s Felipe Aguilar and George Coetzee of South Africa. Four players are tied for fourth on 5 under, including European Ryder Cup hero Ian Poulter.

Garcia had six birdies, an eagle and just the one dropped shot on his card. It was his best score in 25 trips around the Emirates course, bettering the 66 he returned in the second round in 2009. He played in front of Tiger Woods, and ended up 12 shots ahead of his old enemy.

“Early morning it was little bit easier, not a lot of wind,” Garcia said. “The last probably six holes or so the wind started picking up and it was playing a little bit tougher, some of the holes coming in. But I hit the ball nicely. I got away with a couple of shots here and there, and I chipped and putted nicely. So it added up to a nice round.”

Poulter is making his first trip to Dubai since 2008. He also recorded his best score over the Emirates course. The key to his round was playing the par 5s in 3 under.

“It’s something I haven’t done for a while,” Poulter said. “Every time I’ve played well, I’ve played the par 5s well, and that was the key to that back nine, five birdies on the back side and three of them on par 5s.”

The Englishman is currently ranked 206th in the world after missing most of last season with an arthritic problem in his right foot. He’s desperate to get back into the world top 50 to play in the majors and World Golf Championships.

“I feel ready to go,” he said. “I’m not sure I’m hitting my stride just yet. As well as I played today, I think there was still a couple of mishits in there. And the perfectionist I am, I want to eradicate those. When I do, I’ll start to shoot some real low rounds of golf.”

Aguilar is chasing his third European Tour win, while Coetzee is seeking his fourth.

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