Defending champion Hatton off to strong start in Abu Dhabi

David Cannon / David Cannon Collection / Getty

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Tyrrell Hatton began the defense of his Abu Dhabi Championship title by shooting 6-under 66 and was three strokes off the lead in second place midway through the first round on Thursday.

Rory McIlroy got off to a disappointing start to his first event of 2022, though, bogeying his final two holes for an even-par 72 at Yas Links, which was hosting the Rolex Series event on the European tour for the first time.

Scott Jamieson, a Scot ranked No. 336, was leading after a bogey-free 63 that contained nine birdies — four of them coming in a five-hole span at the start of his back nine and the final one coming from 12 feet at the par-5 18th.

Hatton, who won the event last year at nearby Abu Dhabi Golf Club, was tied for second place with Victor Perez.

Collin Morikawa, the British Open champion who won the Race to Dubai title last year, was among the afternoon starters and birdied his first hole.

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Defending champion Hatton off to strong start in Abu Dhabi
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