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Golfer Bjorn Shares Leads at Dubai

March 7, 2002

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) _ Defending champion Thomas Bjorn shot a 5-under-par 67 for a share of the first-round lead Thursday at the Dubai Desert Classic.

Bjorn, coming back from a shoulder injury, was tied with Robert Karlsson after a five-birdie, no-bogey round at Emirates Golf Club.

``It was different out there and it certainly felt like I hadn’t played golf for a while,″ said Bjorn, a Dane who makes Dubai his winter home. ``I felt nervous early on and the decisions on the shots were hard to make.″

Bjorn saved par from 8 feet on the first hole and from 10 feet on the second, ``and that gave me a feeling that maybe it was my day,″ he said. He then birdied three of the next four holes.

Those with Els at 68 were Niclas Fasth, Sam Torrance and South Korea’s Charlie Wi, who had eight birdies including the last two holes.

Karlsson eagled the 18th to go with five birdies and a pair of bogeys and he continued to play his way back into shape after taking time off following the birth of his daughter in December.

``I didn’t do much practice,″ he said. ``Basically I was just getting used to being a father.″

Ernie Els, the 1994 winner with a European Tour record-tying 61, was among four golfers a stroke behind the leaders. He bogeyed the 17th hole after fluffing a chip.

``I enjoyed this morning, although I didn’t hit the ball perfectly,″ said Els, who won the Genuity Classic at Doral last week. ``I missed quite a few fairways but apart from the bogey it was pretty good. I like the golf course out there and I feel like I want to play.″

Those with Els at 68 were Niclas Fasth, Sam Torrance and Charlie Wi, who had eight birdies including the last two holes.

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