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Abu Dhabi, UAE – So much anticipation, so many questions, so much…ehhh. Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods got off to mediocre starts at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. A 75 (+3) for McIlroy and 72 (E) for Woods leaves both with work to do to make the cut after round 2. Maybe it’s rust, maybe it’s that the course is playing difficult, maybe (at least for Rory) it’s his new equipment. At any rate the world’s top two players will certainly look to improve on their performance Friday.
The pair managed only six birdies between them against a combined 5 bogeys and 2 double bogeys…ouch. Lowlights surely were McIlroy snap-hooking it out of bounds on the third hole (his 12th) and having to re-tee. For Woods, a smother-topped driver on the first hole (his tenth) that traveled a grand total of 175 yards, ended 50 yards short of the fairway and left a 235-yard second shot into the par 4 was his worst of the day.
In all Woods finished with 29 putts hitting 10/18 greens and 5/14 fairways…yuck. He seemed relatively sharp early but it would not last. An erratic driver was certainly helped by the good putting. His 72 could easily have been, and maybe should have been, much worse.
McIlroy was off from the start and never seemed comfortable. The
easy lazy analysis is that his new equipment doesn’t fit him and he’ll struggle all year. Naturally, McIlroy will need some adjustment in competition with the new gear. But it surely didn’t help his confidence when, going for the 18th green in two, Rory aimed left for a fade and hit a low pull-hook that required him to take relief from the grandstand. He did manage to save par though. And two double bogeys in a round are difficult to overcome.
The dynamic duo played in the morning wave and generally the wind picks up in the afternoon in the desert. Disappointing as their opening rounds may have been, neither player is out of the tournament. It will certainly take some tightening of their respective swings and sharper all-around play to play their way back into the tournament. Woods and McIlroy will tee off at 3:05 AM (ET) in round 2 with live coverage on Golf Channel.