Abu Dhabi - Rory McIlory and Tiger Woods both
looked short of form on Thursday as they opened their 2013 campaigns at
the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
World No.1 McIlroy, playing
for the first time in competition with his new Nike golf clubs had two
double-bogeys en route to a three-over par 75 that left him trailing
down in 62nd place
Second-ranked Woods was wayward off the tee as he matched four birdies with four bogeys to come in at level par.
VIDEO: Tiger v McIlroy
third member of the day's marquee grouping, three-times former winner
at Abu Dhabi Martin Kaymer, bettered them both with a one under 69 that
left him four shots off the early pace set by Jamie Donaldson of Wales.
choice of Paul McGinley as captain for the defence of the trophy at
Gleneagles, Scotland in 2014 had dominated most of the build-up to a
tournament which has become a platform for the top players to open their
But the focus in perfect, early morning conditions
switched to McIlroy and Woods, who now find themselves as stablemates of
sportswear giant Nike following the Northern Irishman's mega-money deal
with the US company announced on Monday.
How he would fare
with his new clubs was one of the talking points of the day. He had a
solid enough start but things took a distinct turn for the worse at the
short 15th (his sixth hole) where McIlroy sent it way long and right.
23-year-old Ulsterman looked shocked at how far off target he was and
he promptly failed to find the green with his chip from thick rough.
The result was a double bogey five and a three shot swing in favour of Woods and Kaymer, who both had birdies.
remained at three behind his playing partners at the turn, but it was
Woods' turn to struggle as he topped his drive off the 1st tee and
failed to even reach the fairway 180 yards away.
eventually had back-to-back bogeys to start his back nine, allowing
McIlroy to draw level with him at level par but the world No.1 then hit a
wild drive out of bounds at the third and had to go back to the tee.
A second double bogey was his punishment as he fell back to two over with Woods at level par and Kaymer at two under.
was in trouble again after finding thick rough off the tee at the
par-five eighth. He only managed to squirt the ball into a bunker on the
other side of the fairway which resulted in another bogey.
birdied that hole with a long putt to duck under par but he three putted
the last. McIlroy missed a short birdie putt and both players were
shaking their heads ruefully as they completed what had had been
frustrating first rounds of the season.
Kaymer found water off the tee and had to settle for a bogey to finish with.