As a young gun, Rory McIlroy had watched in awe at Tiger Woods’ exploits.On Thursday, the World No.3 rubbed shoulders with his hero as they and World No.1 Luke Donald set about to tame the 18 holes of the National Course.
Despite encountering problems with his driving, the Ulsterman managed to upstage the former World No.1 to take a share of the clubhouse lead after the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club.The 22-year-old fired a five-under par 67 to be tied with Sweden’s Robert Karlsson at the end of the day. The US Open champion carded seven birdies which included three birdies on the trot on his front nine and two bogeys.Karlsson, too carded seven birdies and two bogeys.
The Championship saw its best ever first day attendance figures thanks to Woods and the American obliged by carding a bogey-free round. Woods came away with a two-under par 70 and it should have been a better return had he got his putting right. Woods had 16 pars and two birdies.The 14-time Major winner was tied with US Masters champion Charl Schwartzel, while Donald and Korea’s KJ Choi were at one-under par. World No.2 Lee Westwood and Open champion Darren Clarke ended the day with a level par score.
World No.4 Martin Kaymer, a three-time winner here, was gunning for a hat-trick of Falcon trophies but had his worst day under the sun to return with a five-over par 77.Meanwhile, Sergio Garcia, who was paired with Westwood and Kaymer, fired a hole-in-one with a seven iron at the Par 3 12th. The hole-in-one won him an annual three-night stay for life, in a Grand Room at the Emirates Palace Hotel. Garcia finished the day with a one-under par.
“I hit the ball better than I probably expected; I hit it fairly good,” Garcia said.McIlroy, who has finished fifth, third and second here in his last three visits, teed off from the 10th and sped ahead of Donald and Woods with three successive birdies. But he bogeyed the 14th and 17th. He managed four birdies on his return journey.Woods, on the other hand, had a birdie on the 11th and could have got another at the par-five 18th but he three-putted it. Woods had another birdie on the fourth.
Woods and Donald were level on two-under after a bogey free 15 holes. Kaymer began in disastrous fashion with a double bogey on the first while Westwood and Garcia scored a par. Kaymer was already three shots behind after the duo had birdied the second. Kaymer then made a par five at the second to stay at two-over. But Kaymer had a bogey on the fifth and he dropped to three over. Kaymer finally had a birdie on the eighth. But he had another bogey on the 14th to drop to four-over.Kaymer has had scores of 66, 67, 67 first round scores when he has won the Championship in 2008, 2010 and 2011.