World Golf Number One Rory McIlroy (pictured by Getty Images) made a scintillating start to his coronation as Race to Dubai winner, firing a bogey-free opening round of 66 in the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai to share the lead with Shane Lowry on six under par.
Having not played competitively since the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, McIlroy admitted he was raring to go in the European Tour’s season-finale at Jumeirah Golf Estates, and he was quickly out of the blocks with four birdies in his opening five holes.
The four-time Major Champion followed that with nine consecutive pars before back-to-back birdies on the 15th and 16th holes to move to the top of the leaderboard alongside Irishman Lowry, who had earlier set the clubhouse target after finishing his round with four birdies over the closing six holes.
It was the sixth time that McIlroy has carded a round of 66 over the Earth Course, matching his lowest score previously in 2010, 2011 and three times in 2012.
Denmark’s Thorbjørn Olesen, who had reached seven under par before a double bogey six on the 16th hole, and Scotland’s Richie Ramsay are a shot adrift of the leading pair on five under par, while defending champion Henrik Stenson opened with a 67 to sit a further shot back on four under par, alongside Argentine Emiliano Grillo.
Key Player quotes
“It was a great way to start. You never expect to start like that, but I’ve been hitting the ball well for the last couple of weeks that I’ve been, and it was just a matter of trying to take that good range play on to the course. I was able to do that today, which I’m really happy about.”
“Any time you shoot 66 anywhere, it’s quite decent. But this golf course can be difficult at times. I went out there today and played nicely. I played one real bad hole and other than that, I played beautiful golf. I’m pretty happy.”
“I thought I played quite nicely. I hit the ball well. On the greens, I missed a couple of chances, good chances for birdie early on, and I made two bogeys in a row, which was a little frustrating. But from there on, it was pretty steady and made some good birdies coming in. I was pretty unlucky when I ended up in a bad spot on the seventh off the tee with no stance but I guess I got the luck back on 18 when I had a heck of a bounce from my approach to the green. It was nice to get one back and four under is good.”
Complete first round scores (par 72)
66 R McIlroy (Nir) , S Lowry (Irl) ,
67 R Ramsay (Sco) , T Olesen (Den) ,
68 H Stenson (Swe) , E Grillo (Arg) ,
69 T Fleetwood (Eng) , D Willett (Eng) , L Oosthuizen (RSA) , R Fisher (Eng) , E Molinari (Ita) ,
70 L Westwood (Eng) , J Blixt (Swe) , G Coetzee (RSA) , J Luiten (Ned) , K Broberg (Swe) , T Hatton (Eng) ,
71 M Warren (Sco) , R Karlsson (Swe) , R Sterne (RSA) , R Wattel (Fra) , H Otto (RSA) , D Howell (Eng) , P Larrazábal (Esp) , J Rose (Eng) , A Levy (Fra) , T Bjørn (Den) , V Dubuisson (Fra) , M Jiménez (Esp) ,
72 G McDowell (Nir) , T Jaidee (Tha) , C Schwartzel (RSA) , S Gallacher (Sco) , B Wiesberger (Aut) , B Grace (RSA) , J Donaldson (Wal) , D Fichardt (RSA) , M Kaymer (Ger) , O Fisher (Eng) ,
73 A Sullivan (Eng) , R Cabrera-Bello (Esp) , N Colsaerts (Bel) , M Hoey (Nir) , W Ormsby (Aus) , F Zanotti (Par) , S Dyson (Eng) , F Molinari (Ita) , S Garcia (Esp) ,
74 M Ilonen (Fin) ,
75 M Baldwin (Eng) , I Poulter (Eng) , M Manassero (Ita) , O Wilson (Eng) , E Els (RSA) ,
76 T Aiken (RSA) , L Donald (Eng) , E Pepperell (Eng) , D Lipsky (USA) , M Siem (Ger) ,
78 B Koepka (USA)
Source: European Tour