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David Horsey shows some giddy-up in Saudi International

David Horsey 1st round 2021 Saudi International
England’s David Horsey ends his recent poor form and opens the European Tour’s Saudi International with a 9-under 61 on Thursday for the 1st-round lead.

After having missed cuts in 1st 2 starts of year, Englishman shoots 9-under 61 and shocks himself with lead at European Tour event

After having missed the cut in his first two starts of the year on the European Tour, England’s David Horsey was stunned to find himself in the most unlikely of places after the first round of the Saudi International: atop the leaderboard.

Horsey shot 9-under 61 on Thursday at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club to open a one-stroke lead in the third consecutive event in the Middle East. Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher shot 62 and stood alone in second place, followed by Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger at 64. Bryson DeChambeau, who was among a 12-man American contingent, shot 65 for a share of fourth place (scores).

Horsey, 35, a four-time winner on the European Tour, had broken par only once in four rounds to start 2021 en route to two consecutive weekends off. None of that recent history seemed to matter on Thursday, though, as he rattled off nine birdies, including five in a row on Nos. 10-14, en route to a 7-under 28 on the back nine.

“It's a shock, actually,” he said. “I've been playing rubbish the last couple weeks. Didn't feel like I controlled my ball the first two events.

“I had a conversation with a pal back home last night, talking a few things through, and he suggested something that I work on away from the tournament. Knowing me, I thought, Well, can't get any worse, so I may as well try it, and here we are.

“It's really just how my body is moving – quite sort of technical, really. It's nice to have a feel you can wake up and pick up straight away.

“I didn't really feel like I missed many shots. I holed a couple of nice, lengthy putts as well, and it all adds up to 61.”

Horsey, who stands No. 282 in the Official World Golf Ranking, hasn’t won since Aug. 23, 2015, at the Made in Denmark event.

American Dustin Johnson, the world’s top-ranked player, shot 69 to join countryman Kurk Kitayama in a nine-way tie for 17th. Americans Phil Mickelson, Tony Finau and Sean Crocker shot 70s. Americans Patrick Reed, Kevin Na, John Catlin and Julian Suri were another shot back, at 71.

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