World number one Koepka fires in knockout stages after injury

World number one Brooks Koepka marked his disturbing return from injury with an opening of 66 at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship.

Koepka, who hasn’t played since October, showed no signs of rust when he carded six birdies in a bogey-free round to lie two strokes from the head of the clubhouse owned by Italian Renato Paratore.

Four-time winner won stem cell treatment on his left knee in late August, but compounded the problem after slipping on wet concrete at the CJ Cup in South Korea and was forced to withdraw from the team from the United States for the December Presidents Cup.


“It’s good to be back,” Koepka told Sky Sports. “I obviously missed the competition.

The world number 1 on its opening 66 ?️ # ADGolfChamps #RolexSeries

– The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) January 16, 2020

“Played really solid. I missed a few putts early if I really want to take it apart. Drove the ball well. Controlled ball flight and controlled distances very well and that’s what you have to do here.

“Usually in the afternoon the wind picks up and you know that when you have a morning start you should take advantage of it. I did it today.

“Hopefully tomorrow the wind will stay a little because this golf course in the wind, or with the wind, can be very difficult.”

When asked about his knee, Koepka added, “It feels good. It was a little painful last night. It’s planned. It is the first week that I have made 18 holes and I have already done it three times. He’s a little tired. “

How to start a tournament, by @RenatoParatore ✅ # ADGolfChamps #RolexSeries

– The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) January 16, 2020

During the week in which the European Tour’s attempt to suppress slow play came into force, it seemed fitting that Paratore, who is recognized as one of the fastest players in the game, set the pace early with a superb 64.

The 23-year-old finished his round with four consecutive birdies to take advantage of a two-stroke lead over Koepka and Australian Jason Scrivener, with Sergio Garcia one shot further back and defending champion Shane Lowry a 70th opening.

“Today’s short game was really good and the game iron,” said Paratore.

“I had good putts in the first holes, which gives me good confidence for the rest of the day, and I continue to putts, so it’s been a great day.”