Edberg ahead, but Tiger chases

Sweden’s Pelle Edberg opened up a two-stroke lead as the Dubai Desert Classic got underway this morning, with world-number-one Tiger Woods and Colin Montgomerie lurking in the chasing group at the Emirates Golf Club.

Sweden’s Pelle Edberg opened up a two-stroke lead as the Dubai Desert Classic got underway this morning, with world-number-one Tiger Woods and Colin Montgomerie lurking in the chasing group at the Emirates Golf Club.

Edberg, a Q-School regular until finishing 51st on the Order of Merit last year, was bogey-free through the opening 12 holes of his first round.

The 28-year-old, starting on the back nine, made a solid start and reached the turn in a four-under-par 33 with a run of four birdies in seven holes before picking up another shot at the start of the front nine.

Woods is joined on three under by playing partners Montgomerie and Niclas Fasth, Denmark’s Anders Hansen, India’s Shiv Kapur, Spanish Ryder Cup winner Sergio Garcia and Sweden’s Johan Edfors.

Edfors, who led heading into the final round at last week’s Qatar Masters before being forced to settle for fourth place, would have held a share of the lead through 11 holes of his first round but the Swede shipped a double-bogey seven at his fourth hole of the day.

Fasth and Montgomerie, after starting on the back nine alongside 2006 Dubai Desert Classic champion Woods, both birdied the opening hole after converting from six feet.

Woods opted to stamp his authority early and came only narrowly short of reaching the green of the 549-yard par five with his second shot as the Americans ball nestled in the rough 20 feet from the pin, just clear of a bunker.

His third shot, a deft chip, almost rolled in for an eagle three, coming up inches short, but Woods was forced to settle for an opening birdie after tapping in from close range.

After three straight pars, which contained a missed 15-foot birdie attempt from Woods at the 11th, the 13-time major winner moved onto two-under with a birdie three at the 14th.

Back-to-back birdies for Fasth, at 16 and 17, and Montgomerie, at 17 and 18, followed while Woods also birdied the 18th after agonisingly watching a 30-foot eagle putt drift by the right edge of the hole as the trio reached the turn in three-under-par 34.

Darren Clarke’s challenge suffered a setback as he reached the turn three over par after carding a quadruple-bogey nine at the 18th.

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