The Belgian player dropped three shots combined on the 10th and 11th holes of his first round, but recovered with three straight birdies to shoot 5-under 67 for a one-stroke lead over David Lipsky. The 84th-ranked Pieters is chasing his first win since August, and only second victory in 3½ years.
Bryson DeChambeau, one of the high-profile names in the field, was three shots off the lead after a round of 70 that included birdies on his first and last holes. Fresh off his win at the Abu Dhabi Championship last week, Lee Westwood didn’t make a birdie in a 6-over 78 and was tied for 113th place.
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