Dustin Johnson's great record at the Saudi International continued on Thursday as he opened his 2022 campaign with a solid 65.
Johnson is already a two-time winner of the event, now sanctioned by the Asian Tour, and he finished day one just three shots behind Matteo Manassero.
The 37-year-old began his round in perfect fashion with two birdies in his opening two holes. He completed his first nine in 31 shots and he added birdies at the 10th and 11th holes.
Johnson gave one shot back to the course on the par-4 13th hole. He missed just four greens on an impressive day at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club.
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5-under-par leaves the American in tied seventh place. The Italian Manassero shot a bogey-free 62 in the first round of the Saudi International to lead by two shots from Bubba Watson, Sam Horsfield and three other players on 6-under-par.
DJ getting his putter rolling at the @SaudiIntlGolf #SaudiIntlGolf #whereitsAT pic.twitter.com/3ZUZKCNM5u— Asian Tour (@asiantourgolf) February 3, 2022
Bryson DeChambeau, who missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open, struggled again in Saudi Arabia. He shot a 3-over-par 73 in the first round.
The 28-year-old has had a wrist injury hanging over his head in recent weeks and it arguably showed again, as he made three bogeys and a triple-bogey on the par-4 7th hole.
DeChambeau struggled to remain consistent last week at Torrey Pines and he only hit three fairways on day one of the Saudi International.
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Phil Mickelson, one of the biggest PGA Tour stars to compete in this controversial event, started solidly with a 3-under-par 67. He is five shots behind and tied with Xander Schauffele and Tyrrell Hatton.
Patrick Reed opened with a 66, as did Cameron Smith, Tommy Fleetwood and Henrik Stenson. Ian Poulter began with a 68 at the venue near Jeddah.
Prior to the first round, it was revealed that Ian Poulter had been offered up to £30 million to take part in the Saudi-backed International Series, part of the Public Investment Fund's expenditure on the Asian Tour.