Monday 27 February 2017

Bragging rights for McIlroy

RORY McILROY took the bragging rights in his Shanghai showdown with former ISM stablemate Lee Westwood with a stunning 64 yesterday, while Darren Clarke shot down a suggestion on social network site Twitter that he might be the next big-name player to leave the English management company.

The Open champion made his feelings plain when asked: "Hey Darren, would you leave Chubby if the offer was good enough, say 30 pieces of silver?"

"Loyalty has no price," replied Clarke, Chubby Chandler's first client at ISM, adding for emphasis: "No!"

Immediately, in came another tweet from an individual in Co Meath: "Does that imply you disagree with Rory's decision?"

"It doesn't matter," Clarke responded. "Rory is own man and I respect his decision."

Westwood and McIlroy's other rivals at the $5m Shanghai Masters at Lake Malaren certainly had to respect the quality of golf played by the 22-year-old as he picked up eight birdies in a bogey-free round on the long and relatively difficult new course to lead overnight.

Paired with McIlroy in the first round just days after describing the Northern Irishman's decision to quit ISM as "bizarre", Westwood had to be satisfied with a three-under 69.

American Hunter Mahan opened his bid for the record $2m first prize in Shanghai with a 65. Padraig Harrington, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey were three off the pace in the 30-man field at this unofficial invitational event after posting first-round 67s.

Irish Independent

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