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Dublin: 8 °C Thursday 21 November, 2019
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Driver delights McIlroy as he starts 2014 with bogey-free round

McIlroy three shots off the early lead after a solid start in Abu Dhabi.

McIlroy: two birdies and no bogeys on his first competitive round of the year.
McIlroy: two birdies and no bogeys on his first competitive round of the year.
Image: Kamran Jebreili/AP/Press Association Images

RORY MCILROY HIT the ground running with a bogey-free first round at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

After opening with a two-under-par 70, the world number six said he was striking the ball as well as he has done in a long time.

“I was really pleased with how I hit the ball out there,” McIlroy told EuropeanTour.com.

“I think from tee to green I was really solid. I drove the ball great but probably didn’t take advantage of some of the great opportunities I gave myself, I could have been a few better.

Starting off bogey-free is always a nice way to start and definitely a nice score to build on for the rest of the week.

McIlroy sits three shots off the early clubhouse lead shared by Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Romain Wattel and Matthew Baldwin. Europe’s Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley is a shot off the pace on four-under thru 16 holes at the time of writing.

For McIlroy, the decision to spend the new year fine-tuning his game in the Emirates appears to have left him in a good place.

He said: “I feel the benefit of ending last year well and starting off this year with a lot of hard work and graft. It showed out there.

“That was my first competitive round since the start of December and I drove the ball as well as I have done in a long time so that was very pleasing.”

Check out the latest scores from Abu Dhabi here >

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Niall Kelly

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