Sunday 22 January 2017

Sizzling McIlroy goes with the flow

Bernie McGuire in Dubai

Published 11/02/2011 | 05:00

Rory McIlroy walked from the course with an 'easy' seven-under-par 65, so after sharing lunch with your parents and then working on your pace-putting ahead of a session in gym, what do you do for the rest of the afternoon?

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In McIlroy's case he joined a couple of mates who were splashing about in the Wild Wadi Water Park next door to the Jumeirah Beach Hotel.

His score of 65 left him two strokes clear of Spain's Sergio Garcia and South African Thomas Aiken on day one of the Dubai Desert Classic.

In the 'Battle of the Big Three', honours were shared between Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer with three-under-par 69s, while Tiger Woods, competing alongside the world's top two, eagled the last in a score of 71.

McIlroy's round was a mix of eight birdies and one bogey in what was his second-lowest round in Dubai and just a shot more than the 64 he recorded on the first day of the event two years ago on his way to his last European Tour success.

"It was easier shooting a 65 compared to the 64 two years ago," said McIlroy.

"It just becomes a little easier because I am not putting myself under as much pressure on the golf course and not going at every pin and trying to make myself hit great shots all the time.

"I'm just thinking about it a bit more and trying to decide when it is a good time to go for it and when it isn't."

McIlroy capped his round with five birdies in succession from his eighth hole, where he admitted to enjoying a little luck.

blocked

He blocked his tee shot right in going for the green at the shortest par-four on the course, with his ball landing in wasteland area full of palm trees and undergrowth.

Fortunately, McIlroy had a clear look at the green and pulled off a 50-yard chip shot to 10 feet to set up his run of birdies.

"I got really lucky on 17. I said to JP (his caddie) that I was going for it because I can hit the green easy enough, but I just didn't get all of it," said McIlroy.

"I was lucky, as the ball stayed out of the bushes and then I hit one of the best shots of the day off the desert sand and to 10 feet. On any other day, I could have been taking an unplayable and taking a drop, and maybe making four at best -- or a five or six."

While McIlroy was letting rip with conviction, Woods was dicing the contents of a mind stacked with maddening swing thoughts and technical considerations, which from time to time crowd in on him and tie his hands together. His wedge from 80 yards on the 17th sailed 40 feet past the pin.

"That was awful," he said. On the last he hit a three-wood more than 250 yards to five feet to set up his grand finale.

This is the part of Woods's make-up that circumstance cannot erode; the fight. As playing partner Lee Westwood noted, there is no need to reconstruct his competitive spirit.

"It isn't fair to comment on his game because he is changing a lot of things but one thing you will always get from Tiger is he will grind his backside off," said Westwood.

Woods added: "I fought hard. I was two over early, got it back birdieing 10 and 11 then threw it right away with a double on 12. Sometimes I think of technique instead of feel. I struggled with ball flight and could never get a ball pin high."

Darren Clarke and Michael Hoey shot 70 -- one better than Damien McGrane. Paul McGinley, who has split with caddie Pete Futcher, took 73 with Dubai-based Dubliner Paddy Byrne carrying the clubs. Byrne previously caddied for 1999 British Open winner Paul Lawrie.

Dubai Desert Classic,

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Irish Independent

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