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McIlroy in the hunt in Abu Dhabi as defending champion Fleetwood makes flying start

The former world number one is three shots off the Englishman’s lead.

McIlroy plays out of the sand this morning.
McIlroy plays out of the sand this morning.
Image: Kamran Jebreili/PA Images

DEFENDING CHAMPION TOMMY Fleetwood made a flawless start to the 2018 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this morning, carding a bogey-free six-under par total to hold a one-shot lead.

Victory at Abu Dhabi Golf Club put the English golfer on the path to winning the Race to Dubai last year and he started the 2018 event with three birdies on the front nine, before matching that feat coming home.

His six-under par total leaves him one shot clear of Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti and two ahead of the Scottish pair of Richie Ramsey and Stephen Gallagher, as well as Finland’s Miko Ilonen.

Rory McIlroy is one of six players a shot further back on -3. Like Fleetwood, he birdied three of his opening eight holes but had to settle for 10 pars in a row to close out his round.

Ireland’s Paul Dunne is -1 through his opening four holes.

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