Bjorn in Familiar Territory at Dubai - COPIED
The duo owns a one-shot edge over Ernie Els, the winner of the last week's Genuity Championship on the PGA Tour, Charlie Wi, Olle Karlsson, Ryder Cupper Niclas Fasth and his captain at the Belfry, Sam Torrance, who made his 2002 season debut after knee surgery.
The co-leaders are also making returns to the tour in some respects. For Bjorn, this is his first competitive action of the year after a shoulder injury caused him to miss several months.
'I didnt have any expectations,' said Bjorn, who bested Tiger Woods by two shots last year. 'I knew I was swinging the club well but I would have taken anything under par for my first competitive round of the year. I knew if I went out and hit the shots Ive been hitting on the range then I could shoot 64 but it could also have all gone up in the air.'
Karlsson's absence was for a more joyous occasion. Prior to Christmas, he welcomed his first daughter, Thea, into the world and he took time off to be a father after three tournaments early in the 2002 campaign.
'Thea, my baby daughter, was born on the 19th of December and I was getting used to being a father when I went to Australia,' said Karlsson, a four-time winner on the European Tour. 'Perhaps I should have practiced instead of playing. However Ive got over the shock of being a dad and Ive practiced hard during my break.'
Bjorn opened with three birdies in his first six holes at the Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club before adding another birdie at No. 11. The Dane matched Karlsson for the lead with a birdie at the 17th hole to reach minus-five.
Karlsson took a different approach to his 67, mixing five birdies, two bogeys and an eagle. His birdie at the ninth, his final hole of Thursday's opening round, gave him the clubhouse lead over his playing partner, Els.
Els, a two-time U.S. Open champion, collected five birdies and a bogey while showing no hangover from his win on the PGA Tour last weekend.
'I felt good today,' said Els, who won the Heineken Classic in early February. 'The celebrations and all that stuff was done and dusted. I like the course and Im ready to play.'
Torrance, the European Ryder Cup captain, came out on fire with four birdies in a row, starting at the second hole. He picked up two birdies and two bogeys the rest of the way for his 68.
'It was just down to wear and tear,' said Torrance of his knee injury. 'I hadnt had any problems before and it seems fine now. Today was all a bit of a shock, to be honest, but a nice way to start the year.'
Pierre Fulke, also a member of the European Ryder Cup team, posted a 3-under 69 and shares eighth with Mark Mouland, Paul Broadhurst, Gregory Havret, Sven Struver and John Bickerton.
Padraig Harrington shot a 2-under 70 while Colin Montgomerie carded a 1-under 71 Thursday and is part of a logjam tied for 28th.
Darren Clarke, Justin Rose and Nick Faldo are part of a group at even-par 72, five shots out of the lead.
Full field scores from the Dubai Desert Classic
Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational
Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.
The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.
Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.
Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.
The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.
Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.
Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump
Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.
Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.
None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.
Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.
An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.
In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.
Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.
Playing with the pros
Tiger, DJ and Faxon
President at the Presidents Cup
Purported round of 73 with Lindsey Graham
Cart on the green
Presence and protests at U.S. Women's Open
Trump golf properties
Reportedly fake TIME covers
Trump apologizes for voter-fraud story
Pros comment on the president
Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017
GolfChannel.com is counting down the top 10 Newsmakers of the Year as voted on by Golf Channel’s writers, editors, reporters and producers. Check out the list below, including future release dates. And click here for the full collection of articles.
No. 1: Dec. 18