Matt Fitzpatrick on trail of Abu Dhabi leader Bryson DeChambeau

Bryson DeChambeau lines up a putt on the 13th green during round one of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship (Picture: Martin Dokoupil/AP).
Bryson DeChambeau lines up a putt on the 13th green during round one of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship (Picture: Martin Dokoupil/AP).

SHEFFIELD'S Matt Fitzpatrick shot a four-under-par 68 in the first round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, four behind clubhouse leader Bryson DeChambeau, the US Amateur champion.

Malton's Simon Dyson, in his third event back after a seven-month injury absence, is just one back of Fitzpatrick after a very encouraging three-under-par 69.

Fitzpatrick produced an unblemished card and after turning in one under, thanks to a birdie at eight, the British Masters champion added three more birdies at holes 10, 14 and 15.

Dyson began his round at the 10th and was 'out' in two under, birdieing both 15 and 18.

He stumbled to his only bogey of the round at the first, but added birdies at both the fifth and eighth holes.

Fitzpatrick's fellow Sheffielder Danny Willett - together they were part of Europe's successful EurAsia Cup team in Malaysia last week - endured a difficult day.

He had four bogeys to the turn, partially alleviated by one birdie, and had one birdie and one bogey on his way back to the clubhouse.

Harrogate's John Parry, who like Dyson began his day at the 10th hole, shot a level-par 72.

He sandwiched a bogey at 16 with birdies at 11 and 18, and then carded a birdie at the third before before bogeying the sixth and ninth.

Walker Cup player DeChambeau became the fifth player after Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Ryan Moore to win the NCAA and US Amateur titles in the same season last year, but has also made headlines for his unique approach to the game.

The physics graduate describes himself as a "golf scientist" and has modified his irons so that they are all the same shaft-length as a six iron, while he uses water and Epsom salts to establish which of his golf balls are slightly flawed (he says about four per dozen) so they can be discarded.

"It was quite incredible," DeChambeau said of his round, which contained seven birdies, an eagle and one bogey.

"I had no expectations and was just able to freewheel a little bit and that allows me to do my best."

At eight under par DeChambeau led by one from Henrik Stenson, who also started with low expectations after having keyhole surgery on his right knee just six weeks ago.

"It was a bit of grind, more for my foot and hip than the knee, but I just have to take it easy and pace myself," said the world No 5. "I have missed the cut here the last two years so it was nice to get a good round in early."