“No matter how hard we make this golf course, these guys just keep ripping it up,” that was the verdict from Ken Kosak Abu Dhabi Golf Club’s general manager after 12 players shot 66 or better on day one.
The simple fact is, these boys rarely, if ever hit the kind of bad shots that you and I would recognise. I spent most of yesterday observing the action out on the course and in that time I must have seen around 50 birdies and only two truly bad shots.
The first belonged to Paul Casey. After pushing his drive on the 8th he made the schoolboy error (these are not my words but those of GM’s Top 25 Coaches) in following a poor shot with a bad decision. With his ball lying in dense shrubbery (I’m sure there’s a word for where he was but I’m no horticulturalist), he decided to have a crack at the green some 200 yards away. The ball travelled 30 yards right of target into even denser shrubbery and was never seen again. In the end he missed a short putt for bogey and walked off with a 7 on a hole that he would have expected to birdie. To be fair, he wasn’t helped by the commentator Julian Tutt talking just as he was about to hit the putt. Julian would do well to give Casey a wide birth for a few weeks!
The second bad shot came from GM’s very own playing editor David Howell. Having just birdied the par 3 7th, he hooked his tee shot on 8. Unlike Casey, he limited the damage, relying on his awesome short game to make par.
I guess all this illustrates a simple reality of the European Tour. In good weather, playing on a course that’s in superb condition, there is very little you can do to stop them going low. I for one don’t mind that and as long as one of the high profile names comes out on top, I doubt Ken will either.