Rory takes route 66 after birdie spree

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

DUBAI: Rory McIlroy rat­tled in six birdies in an open­ing round six-un­der 66 at the DP World Tour Cham­pi­onship yes­ter­day as he showed no signs of rusti­ness from a six-week break to share a one-shot lead with Ire­land’s Shane Lowry.

World num­ber one McIlroy started in blis­ter­ing fash­ion. He sank a 12-foot birdie on the open­ing hole and picked up a shot on the sec­ond after a mis­judged ea­gle at­tempt. A lip-out from 10 feet on the third halted his charge, but he shrugged that off with a sub­lime tee-shot on the 245-yard par three fourth as he made it four birdies in five holes.

“You never ex­pect to start like that, but I’ve been hit­ting the ball well for the last cou­ple of weeks I’ve been prac­tis­ing – it was just a mat­ter of tak­ing that good range play onto the course,” McIlroy told re­porters.

The four-time ma­jor win­ner then recorded nine suc­ces­sive pars be­fore pick­ing up shots on 15 and 16. In 21 rounds at the Earth course, he has shot six-un­der on six oc­ca­sions.

“I feel it re­ally suits my play,” said McIlroy. “I can be ag­gres­sive with my driver and that can set me up to hit shorter irons to the greens and give my­self a lot of birdie op­por­tu­ni­ties. I didn’t feel I took as many as I could have.”

Lowry made four birdies in his fi­nal six holes to also fin­ish one shot ahead of Den­mark’s Thor­b­jorn Ole­sen and Scot­land’s Richie Ram­say who stand joint-third on 67. Hen­rik Sten­son, sec­ond on the money list, carded a 68 but the other big names strug­gled. Jamie Donaldson made a par 72, Ser­gio Gar­cia 73 and Mar­cel Siem 76.

McIlroy was play­ing for the first time since early Oc­to­ber after tak­ing a break to fight a still un­re­solved le­gal case with his for­mer agents. – Reuters

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