Sport

"If you can hit it in the right spots, you can get to any of the pins" - Power enjoys opening round 66 in Abu Dhabi

A hugely positive start to the HSBC Championship in Abu Dhabi has sent Seamus Power to the correct end of the leaderboard, giving some very reassuring signs that this could be a good weekend for the West Waterford man.

Playing in the early pairings on Thursday, Power shot a -6 round of 66 to move to sole fourth place, with a host of players still out on the course.

It was a short trip for Power this week, some ten miles is all it takes to make it from the Hero Cup venue to the Yas Links course for this weekend.

Known locally as the "Championship Course", players will be tested by designated sandy traps as well as some naturally occurring threats in the desert setting. Nine of the eighteen holes will see water come into play with players tested on several holes to clear the wet from the tee box.

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In his first round, Seamus managed to avoid the pitfalls scattered across the eighteen and will take a lot of confidence in his improved form since last weeks Hero Cup.

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While he was hoping to impress Luke Donald last weekend, Power is now chasing his Ryder Cup captain on the fairways with Donald shooting the leading score of -8 on Thursday. Guide Migliozzi also impressed this morning with a round of -7 to follow his good showing last weekend, while Offaly's Shane Lowry is 5 under and holding a share of fifth.

Speaking after the round the Touraneena man was happy with how he faired from the 18th (starting on 10 today) to the 5th where he picked up no less than five birdies.

"I just find that visually, that stretch [18 to 5] shoots me a little better. I'm a fader, so, 16 and 15 are visually a little tougher for me, so once I got to the 18th tee I thought I might have a chance."

Power had carded eight straight pars having started from the tenth and as he points out, they are not holes that totally suit his style of play where he has to work the ball that bit more without sight on his destination.

Making the turn Power caught fire with that blistering run of six holes with five shots picked up, saying, "you just have to stay patient" when it comes to the green. "You can hit pretty good shots and not end up close to the hole", he said.

"Absolutely incredible" is how he described the Yas Links course which he is playing for the first time, saying "If you can hit it in the right spots, you can get to any of the pins and that's the sign of a good course."

Bob Rotella is a name that is now tied with Power and his success these past two years. The American sports psychologist has been a huge part of Power's climb up the world rankings since his win at the Barbasol in the summer of 2021. This morning in Abu Dhabi, Power once again credited Rotella for the positive play he managed once getting the sticky holes out of the way.

Asked how key the work with Rotella has been, Power told the media that his input "is huge". His help has "simplified some of the things, and reinforces some of the things that I've always heard. Putting them into practice has been the biggest thing. Being able to do that today with eight straight pars, wasn't going particularly well, nothing really happening, but keep doing the same things over and over knowing they are the right things - eventually good things will happen."

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