McIlroy puts on a brilliant performance

Henry

Rory McIlroy simply remains in the news. After the Northern Irish golf star pleaded for a new and true global golf series earlier this week, he let his golf clubs do the talking in Dubai on Thursday and properly displayed his masterful talents.

The 34-year-old McIlroy leads by two shots after the first day’s play in the Dubai Invitational after devouring the Dubai Creek course with a flawless 62 that included nine birdies and nine figures.

The four-time Major champion had several new golf clubs in his bag, but it was especially his new fairways and new irons that made the European Ryder Cup star smile broadly. Admittedly, he only hit half the fairways, but the seven he missed were minimally off course and the world’s second best player was never in trouble.

McIlroy also maintained an average of 332 yards from the fairway, which left him short approaches and put him in a solid position to attack the flags.

And for the first time in a long time, McIlroy also appeared comfortable on the greens from start to finish. He needed just 25 putts to ensure that he finishes day one at the top of the leaderboard and he will keep his fingers crossed that he can conjure up equally brilliant performances on the short grasses over the final three days.

“I surprised myself with my good game and didn’t think things would go so well after the festive period during which I hardly played any golf. Over the first 12 holes the weather conditions were ideal, after which the wind started to blow and suddenly made the last six holes a challenging test.

“Overall, I am delighted and especially very happy that I was able to dish out good play from the fairways and on the greens. The new season couldn’t have started better for me,” McIlroy said afterwards.

The German Yannik Paul holds the second place on 64 (-7), with South Africa’s Thriston Lawrence who also raised his voice and after an excellent performance of 65 (-6) finds himself in the third position on the scoreboard.

English star Tommy Fleetwood and Dane Thorbjorn Olesen both filled scores of 66 on their scorecards. This duo is followed by four players, including the SA player Zander Lombard, on 67 (-4) in the joint sixth position.

“I can’t complain about anything and all areas of my game were solid,” Lawrence said of his performance.

He has only played twice in the past month and is delighted that there have been no signs of rust in his game.

“Hopefully I can maintain momentum until the end and start the season on a high note,” said Lawrence.

Apart from Lawrence and Lombard, two more SA players are in action. Hennie du Plessis kicked off with a 70 (-1) and lies in joint 20th position, while Ockie Strydom shares 32nd place after a 71.

The Dubai Invitational Tournament is a new tournament on the DP World Series’ calendar and the field comprises only 60 professional players who compete in a proam tournament along with 60 amateurs on three of the four days.

The money players play on their own on Sunday when their sights are set on a European title that boasts a winner’s check of around R8 million.

Head of European series resigned

The CEO of the European series, Keith Pelley, announced his resignation in a shock decision on Thursday.

Pelley has been at the helm of affairs for more than eight years and his resignation in a period in which the PGA, LIV and DP World series are conducting negotiations about possible future cooperation between them, has raised eyebrows.

Pelley said in a statement that he is returning to his hometown of Toronto in Canada and taking over the reins of a large company in the sports and entertainment industry that also owns several Canadian sports teams.

The head of Europe’s Ryder Cup organisation, Guy Kinnings, takes over from Pelley on 2 April.

Aussie leader in Hawaii

In Honolulu in Hawaii, Aussie Cam Davis leads by two shots after the first round of the Sony Open.

Davis shot a 64 (-8) on the Wai’alae course to finish the first day at the top of the leaderboard.

The Aussie is paced by Taylor Montgomery (66), with Web Simpson, Aaron Rai, Austin Eckroat and Stephen Jager all scoring four 67s and sharing third position.

The two SA players in the field, Erik van Rooyen (-1) and Garrick Higgo (+2), experienced mixed success on day one.

  • Additional Information: Golf Week, PGA Tour, DP World Tour