DUBAI, January 20: European Tour star Callum Shinkwin showed his class in the desert once again, shooting a brilliant round of eight-under par 64 in tough scoring conditions on day one of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic Shootout at Dubai Hills Golf Club on Sunday.
Three places at the ‘Major of the Middle East’ are up for grabs at the end of the two-round Shootout, and it was the 25-year-old from Hertfordshire, England, who handled the extremely windy conditions the best and took a one-shot lead over another European Tour star, Scotland’s Marc Warren (65).
Ross McGowan of England and the talented Frenchman Victor Riu were tied for third place at five-under par 67, with England’s Ben Evans on 68 and Germany’s Marcel Siem on 69.
Shinkwin, who finished second in the 2017 Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open and qualified for the Open Championship that year, failed to secure his full card on the European Tour this season after finishing 119th in the Race to Dubai in 2018. But he made it to the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship last week by winning the qualifier at Yas Links, and looked set for an encore in Dubai.
The only blemish on Shinkwin’s card was a bogey on the 203-yard, par-3 17th hole, which was playing the toughest hole on the golf course. But nine birdies made sure he did not have to rue that late mistake.
Warren, a three-time champion on the European Tour, saw his streak of playing every tournament in Abu Dhabi since its inception in 2006 come to an end last week. The 37-year-old from Glasgow, however, gave himself a great chance of playing his 13th consecutive Omega Dubai Desert Classic after making eight birdies and just one bogey (on the par-4 fourth hole).
Riu, 34, a regular on the European Challenge Tour, was the only player in the field to remain bogey-free.