WORLD No1 Rory McIlroy rubbished fears of rustiness following his six-week hiatus by racing into a share of the first-round lead at the season-ending DP World Championship yesterday.
McIlroy conjured a bogey-free six-under-par 66, a score matched only by Ireland’s Shane Lowry, in his bid to round off the campaign with a double celebration, having already guaranteed the Race to Dubai crown awarded to Europe’s No1 for the year.
Scotland’s Richie Ramsay, cashing his first win for more than two years, and Danish youngster Thorbjorn Olesen were a shot behind, with defending champion Henrik Stenson and Argentinian Emiliano Grillo on four under.
McIlroy showed his eagerness to forget his time off for a legal wrangle by making four birdies in his first five holes, and picked up further shots at 15 and 16.
“I’ve been hitting the ball really well in practice and luckily that continued,” he said.
“I feel like I missed a lot of putts in the middle of the round but hopefully I can hole a few more and go even lower.”
England’s Lee Westwood shot a 70 – one better than Justin Rose and Victor Dubuisson – while Ian Poulter carded a 75.