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Dublin: 8 °C Friday 18 October, 2019
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Rory McIlroy has started his 2015 season as he means to go on

No winter blues for McIlroy as he bolts out of the blocks.

McIlroy chips onto the 18th green this morning.
McIlroy chips onto the 18th green this morning.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

Updated at 12.44

WORLD NUMBER ONE Rory McIlroy has made a fast start to the new golf season, carding a five under par 67 in this morning’s first round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

Six birdies and one bogey has left the Holywood golfer three shots off the pace, currently set by US Open champion Martin Kaymer who is -8.

McIlroy is making his first appearance since wrapping up the European Tour Race to Dubai at the DP World Tour Championship in November. This week’s event is seen as the real curtain-opener to the European Tour season and is the first event in the Desert Swing that sees the Tour go to Qatar next week before the Dubai Desert Classic in a fortnight.

Starting on the trickier back nine at the Abu Dhabi Gold Club McIlroy birdied his first hole but slowed somewhat after that, bogeying the 17th (his eighth) to go out in level par.

However, a scintillating final nine holes saw him record five birdies in the space of six holes, leaving him at -5 for the championship.

The reigning Open Championship and USPGA champion is tied for seventh along with Rickie Fowler, Martin Kaymer and a host of other players. They lie one shot behind a group of four players on -6, with Belgium’s Thomas Pieters a further shot ahead.

Other Irish interest sees Michael Hoey sitting just outside the top 10 at -3 after a 69 while Darren Clarke and Damien McGrane both tee off at lunchtime Irish time.

First published at 08.32

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