Saturday 4 February 2023 Dublin: 9°C
Lynne Sladky/AP/Press Association Images
# World in motion
Promising start for Ireland at Golf World Cup
Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell lie two shots off the lead after the opening day’s play in China.

AN OPENING ROUND of 63 has put Ireland within striking distance of the lead after day one of the Omega Mission Hills World Cup in China.

World number two Rory McIlroy and partner Graeme McDowell are nine-under par after a bogey-free start in this morning’s fourball, two shots off the early pace set by Australian duo Brendan Jones and Richard Green.

Hoping to go one better than their second place finish in 2009, the Irish pair started strongly with birdies on the first and third holes before kick-starting their round with an eagle three at the par five sixth.

They added another birdie at 9 and powered up the leaderboard after the turn, sinking successive birdies at 12, 13 and 14.

One final birdie at the 17th saw them finish on 63, tied for second place with Scotland’s Martin Laird and Steven Gallacher.

A win for McDowell and McIlroy would be Ireland’s first success at the World Cup since Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley’s victory in America in 1997.

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But after day one, the top of the leaderboard is tightly packed with nine countries currently within four shots of the Australian lead.

The format switches to foursomes when play resumes in the early hours of Friday morning, alternating between fourballs and foursomes for the final two rounds over the weekend.

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