Nicolai Højgaard produced a back-nine birdie blitz to join French duo Julien Guerrier and Matthieu Pavon at the top of the leaderboard after day one of the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, on the DP World Tour.
The Ryder Cup star was one over after six holes and level par as he made the turn at Jumeirah Golf Estates but reeled off five birdies in six holes to sign for a 67 and get to five under.
Earth course debutant Guerrier went bogey-free at the fifth and final Rolex Series event of the season to take the early lead, before in-form countryman Pavon finished birdie-birdie to join him with a blemish-free effort of his own.
Dane Højgaard finished fourth over the Earth course in his only previous appearance at this event in 2021, catapulting himself into the top ten on that season’s final Rankings. Seven top tens in the 2023 season helped him earn his place in the European Team that defeated the United States in Rome and he had his best finish of the campaign finishing second at last week’s Nedbank Championship.
Pavon recently claimed his first DP World Tour title at the acciona Open de España presented by Madrid and has since added two further top 20’s in his last three events, while Guerrier is making his first appearance at the season-ending event.
Another Frenchman in Antoine Rozner was a shot off the lead at four under par alongside Swede Jens Dantorp and Dubai based Adrian Meronk (Pol). Højgaard’s Ryder Cup team-mates: Dubai resident Tommy Fleetwood, Viktor Hovland and Robert MacIntyre were a shot further back at three under alongside South Korea’s Tom Kim.
Hojgaard said: “I played really well today. Drove it well from hole No. 1 to 18, even though it was a little bit of a circus on 18, felt really solid. Got on a run.
“You know there’s a few chances out there, so it’s just about keep hitting good shots and stay present, and I feel I did a good job today.
“There’s a lot of drivers out there but there are certain pins where you want full shots, especially with the firmness of the greens now. They are quite firm and you need some spin. You need — the fairway is premium, but I feel like this is a driver golf course and I feel like I hit it pretty good today.”
Due to the weather forecast, round two of the DP World Tour Championship will be a two-tee start, U draw on Friday from 11:00 am local time.
Round one of the G4D Tour Season Finale @ DP World Tour Championship will be played over nine holes starting from the 10th tee at 10:15 am.
Leading Round 1 Scores
(7,706 Yards, Par 72) N. Hojgaard (Den) 67.
M. Pavon (Fr) 67.
J. Guerrier (Fr) 67.
A, Meronk (Pol) 68.
J. Dantorp (Swe) 68.
A. Rozner (Fr) 68.
T. Kim (Korea) 69.
T. Fleetwood (Eng) 69.
V. Hovland (Nor) 69.
R. MacIntyre (Scot) 69.
R, McIlroy (NI) 71.
J. Rahm (Spain) 72,
R. Fox (NZ) 74.
M. Fitzpatrick (Eng) 74.