Southgate, Waring take early lead in Oman

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Southgate, Waring take early lead in Oman

Euro Tour

Southgate, Waring take early lead in Oman

It’s no surprise to find two Englishmen atop the leaderboard after 18 holes of the $1.75 million NBO Oman Open. What is surprising is it’s not the usual suspects.

Matthew Southgate and Paul Waring share the lead at 7 under after matching 65s. Andy Sullivan and Callum Shinkwin are joint fourth at 5 under to make it four Englishmen in the top 5. Dutchman Daan Huizing is the odd man out in third place, a stroke behind the leaders.

Southgate, Waring and company are intent on taking up the slack with fellow countrymen Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Ross Fisher all missing in action. Fleetwood is playing in this week’s Genesis Open instead.

Southgate and Waring are still looking for their first European Tour wins after overcoming adversity to play with Europe’s elite.

Waring just missed out on a chance to play with Rory McIlroy on the 2007 Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team. He got his card at the 2008 Qualifying School and had high expectations, but has spent the last nine years battling a series of injuries.

Waring went injury free in 2018 and finished 60th on the European money list. Second place in last year’s Joburg Open is his career high finish. The 33-year-old has had a sluggish start to this year, but he found his form in the opening round in Oman.

“I played some of the best golf I’ve played for a little while,” Waring said. “I’d missed three cuts on the spin but I didn’t feel like I’d played badly to miss them. I didn’t feel too far away.”

Southgate was a big story in 2015 when he qualified for the Tour just three months after recovering from testicular cancer. He took full advantage by finishing 56th and 38th on the 2016 and ’17 money lists, respectively. The 29-year-old included a hole-in-one in his 65. He aced the 165-yard fifth hole with a 7-iron.

“It was really good but kind of a weird way to shoot 65,” Southgate said. “I missed a few close-distance chances but then I holed two really long putts and had a hole-in-one. It was a funny way to get that score but I’m over the moon with that start.”

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