AAP Golf

Herbert opens well at Dubai Desert Classic

By AAP Newswire

Australia's Lucas Herbert has opened with a battling 69 to lie two shots off the lead after round one of the European Tour's Dubai Desert Classic.

The 24-year-old Victorian birdied the second at Emirates Golf Club on Thursday before coughing up bogeys on holes three and five.

But Herbert steadied himself to birdie the par-three seventh and added three more on his back nine to reach the clubhouse with a decent score of three-under par.

It was good enough to leave him in an eight-man group sharing third place, two shots behind leader Thomas Pieters.

The big-hitting Belgian dropped three shots combined on the 10th and 11th holes of his first round, but recovered brilliantly with three straight birdies to shoot a five-under 67 for a one-stroke lead over David Lipsky.

The 84th-ranked Pieters is chasing his first win since August, and only second victory in three years.

American defending champion Bryson DeChambeau, one of the high-profile names in the field, was three shots off the lead after posting a 70, which included birdies on his first and last holes.

Fresh off his win at the Abu Dhabi Championship last week, England's Lee Westwood was unable to make a single birdie in a six-over 78 and was tied for 113th place alongside Australian Daniel Gaunt.

Gaunt's compatriot Jason Scrivener lies one shot ahead, with fellow Aussies Scott Hend (+1) - hoping to build on last week's top-25 finish in Abu Dhabi - and Hong Kong winner Wade Ormsby (+2) also needing good second-round scores to stay in the frame.