France’s Victor Perez leads the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai following an opening 67, reports europeantour.com.
The 28-year-old started the week sixth on The Race to Dubai but finished the day on course to become the first French player to end the year as European Number One.
There is still a long way to go over Jumeirah Golf Estates’ Earth Course, however, with a host of big names hot on Perez’s heels.
England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick, Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre, and South African Erik Van Rooyen all opened with four under par rounds of 68, with two-time Major winner Martin Kaymer, 2017 Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, three-time Rolex Series winner Tyrrell Hatton and Finland’s Sami Välimäki a shot further back.
Patrick Reed, looking to become the first American to top the Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex after starting the week in first place, remains well in contention after birdieing the last to sign for a two-under 70.
Perez saw an early birdie on the second cancelled out by a dropped shot on the fourth, but picked up further gains on the seventh and tenth.
The 2019 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship winner then converted a 30-footer on the 11th, holed a five wood from off the green on the 14th and drained another lengthy birdie effort on the 17th.
“As always on these tough courses, tough pins today, they really put up a good setup with some of the pins,” said Perez, who has twice finished as a runner-up in Rolex Series events this season.
“It was just about holing a few good putts, driving the ball well, doing everything fairly well but obviously making a few putts, which you need those type of days.
“In the position I’m in, I have nothing to lose. I have everything to gain. So for me, it’s really a going-for-it mentality that I have to keep for four rounds. Obviously you still have to play proper golf and hit the right shots and sometimes take your medicine, but again, I have really nothing to lose, and it’s a matter of making a lot of birdies.”