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Mud balls wreak havoc for Siem.

Dubai Mud balls were the bane of Marcel Siem's otherwise faultless seven under par 65 opening round at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic yesterday -- without which the German could have notably reduced Rafael Cabrera Bello's two-shot overnight lead.

Clayish clumps that cling onto the ball in moist early morning conditions can wreak havoc with a ball's flight, affecting direction and distance. And that is exactly what Siem claims happened to him on the 13th and 18th holes at Emirates Golf Club yesterday, when he fell short into sand and water hazards.

Even parring the par five 13th and bogeying the par five 18th left Siem, who had birdied on holes two, three, six, eight, ten, 15, 16 and 17, with much to rue.

Siem said: "I chipped in on six, which wasn't easy downhill and on the rough, and long-putted the third. That got momentum going but then on the 13th I hit a mud ball-- it found the [sand] trap and could have been much worse. I said to my caddie EoACAyif I have another mud ball I'll lay it up [play short of potential hazards and not take them on]'.

"But on the 18th I couldn't see the mud ball, it must have been under the ball. It felt like a perfect shot hit with the middle of the face, but it flew off and landed in the water."

The setbacks were a disappointment to Siem, 31, the winner of the 2004 Dunhill Championship who has been working hard to eradicate mistakes in his game.

"That's the only chance to finish top five -- to stop making stupid mistakes. I'm trying to take big numbers out of my play, but a bogey on a par five is a big number already. I had a few hiccups today. Otherwise this was one of my best ever rounds," he said.

Under pressure

"I've changed my technique to perform better under pressure, so hopefully I get under pressure this week. I've done a lot of core work. Previously I have been very crossed on top but now I'm looking for a more neutral stance for consistent drives that hit the fairways. I'm long enough, I just need to hit straight to alleviate mistakes."

So long as he gets it on the greens and fairways, avoiding the rough and mud balls, Siem feels he's in with a chance: "The greens are so pure that as soon as you hit it you know if it's going to go in or not. The roll was the best I've ever putted on."

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Feb 10, 2012
Words:442
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