It felt more like Dundee than Dubai as Scott Jamieson, Paul Lawrie and Stephen Gallacher produced the best efforts among the Scots in the first round of the Omega Desert Classic.
Out in the afternoon, when the wind strengthened and the temperature dropped dramatically, the trio all eclipsed the morning efforts from David Drysdale, Richie Ramsay and Marc Warren.
Jamieson took pride of place with a flawless three-under-par 69, which saw the 33-year-old emerge as the sole afternoon starter to get round the Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club without a bogey.
“I was solid from tee to green,” he said of that praiseworthy effort. “I hit a couple of tee shots that I wasn’t happy with but got lucky both times and was able to capitalise.”
The first occasion was at the second, where the wind caught a pushed drive and carried it into the desert but, with a clear shot, he then put his approach to a foot. It was a similar story at the ninth, where he was able to use the wind to find the green from close to a tree in another area of scrubland.
“Since last August, I’ve been on an upward trend,” added Jamieson, who finished fifth here in 2012 and has made the cut in all five of his five previous appearances. “I missed the cut last week in Qatar, but I felt my game was good tee to green. It’s a good start this week, so hopefully I can take advantage.”
This is the first European Tour event that Jamieson has been accompanied by the latest member of his family, baby son Oscar. “He’s 10 weeks old and is here with our daughter Zoe, who is three,” he said. “They keep me busy at night, but I’m in my own bedroom now, so at least I’m getting some sleep.”
Lawrie and Gallacher agreed that the conditions had been among the trickiest they’d faced at this venue after signing for 70 and 72 respectively.
“It’s the toughest I’ve seen that course. In fact, I can only remember playing in conditions like that once before,” said Lawrie. “It required hitting some low 5 or 6-irons into par-4s and I’m quite comfortable doing that.”
It was a 7-iron that the Aberdonian hit stiff at the ninth, his last, as he bounced back from dropped shots at two of the previous holes after starting his round at the 10th with a brace of birdies.
“I was poor tee to green in Abu Dhabi but played better in the second round last week in Qatar and hopefully this afternoon was another step forward,” he added.
Gallacher said he’d hit a sand wedge into the 16th in the final round when he claimed the first of his back-to-back successes here in 2013. “Today it was a 4-iron,” he said, giving an example of how different the clubbing had been.
“The most difficult part, though, was on the greens as the wind was affecting putts and it was tricky trying to gauge when you needed to take that into account with breaks.
“Given how tough it was, I’m happy with that score. Now it could be a case of batteing down the hatches tomorrow then move up the leaderboard when it calms down over the weekend.”
Ramsay fared best of the Scots in the morning with a 73, beating Drysdale and Warren by two shots and five shots respectively.
Drysdale, who has started the 2017 campaign with five straight cuts, was out in two-under before dropping five shots coming home as he lost his rhythm.
Warren’s round was an odd affair. It included six birdies, the same recorded by leader Sergio Garcia, albeit the Spaniard also had an eagle on his card. The Scot’s good work, though, was undone by a triple-bogey, two double-bogeys and four bogeys.