Friday 3 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
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Elite trio outshone by McIlroy on day one in Dubai
Rory McIlroy has posted an opening round of 65 to take a two-shot lead on day one of the Dubai Desert Classic.

ON A MORNING when the world’s top three golfers were expected to make all the headlines, Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy has stolen the limelight in the Dubai sun.

Teeing off while most of the Irish population were soundly asleep, the 21-year-old posted an impressive score of seven-under-par to take a two-shot lead on the first day of the Dubai Desert Classic.

McIlroy’s 65 gives him a slight bit of breathing space over his nearest competitor, Spain’s Sergio Garcia, who finished the day on five-under-par. Six players are currently one shot further back on four-under, with the day’s play yet to be completed.

Before a shot was struck this morning, however, all of the talk was about the grouping of Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Tiger Woods who have been selected to play together for the first two days.

Westwood’s opening round of 69 means that he is currently four shots off McIlroy’s lead, though the world number one will be slightly disappointed after dropping a shot on the par five 18th hole.

Kaymer finished the day level with Westwood, scoring six birdies en route to his own total of 69.

World number three Tiger Woods is a further two shots back on one-under-par, his disappointing opening round saved from disaster by a last-gasp eagle on 18.

The other competitors of Irish interest scored as follows: Darren Clarke (-2), Damien McGrane (E), Paul McGinley (+1), Peter Lawrie (+2), Gareth Maybin (+7).

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Meanwhile, over in America, Padraig Harrington has teamed up with friend and business partner JP McManus for the first round of the AT&T National Pro-Am at Pebble Beech.

Speaking ahead of the tournament yesterday, Harrington discussed the need for some modernisation of golf’s rules, hinting that the introduction of a video referee in major tournaments might be the most suitable step forward.

William S Callahan’s piece in today’s Irish Independent carries some quotes from the Rathfarnham man.

On the face of it, you could sit down over dinner and you come up with a number of ways to change the rules. But when a committee actually sits down and examines it, I think they will find it very difficult to find a new rule that covers all angles.

Maybe the best suggestion, albeit a bit awkward to do, would be have a video ref sitting there, and he signs off at the end of the day and that’s it.