Rose and Donaldson lead as McIlroy and Woods toil

Thu Jan 17, 2013 10:46am EST
 
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By Tony Jimenez

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy was reduced to a bit-part role and Tiger Woods struck one of the worst shots of the day as Britons Justin Rose and Jamie Donaldson stole the show in the Abu Dhabi Championship first round on Thursday.

Rose and Donaldson led the way with five-under 67s as winds gusting up to 30 kph (20 mph) made scoring difficult in the opening event of the European Tour's three-week desert swing that also includes the Qatar Masters and Dubai Classic.

Sharing third place on 68 were Spain's Pablo Larrazabal and Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark.

World number one McIlroy made the worst possible start when he somehow contrived to putt the ball into a greenside bunker at the 10th hole, his first. He escaped with a par but two double-bogeys later in the round meant he slumped to a three-over 75.

The 23-year-old Northern Irishman signed a massive sponsorship deal in Abu Dhabi on Monday but he refused to attribute his lackluster display to his new Nike clubs.

"Of course, it takes time to get used to ... it's a little bit of an experimental period," the twice major winner told reporters. "I guess when you're going out with new stuff you're always going to be a little anxious.

"I just felt like I wasn't swinging that well. For the most part I was very happy with everything."

McIlroy's playing partner Woods made a trademark charge with three birdies in four holes from the 15th but then completely duffed his drive at the first, the American striking the ground behind the tee peg before squirting the ball out just 120 yards.   Continued...

 
Justin Rose of England watches his shot from the 18th tee during the first round of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club January 17, 2013. REUTERS/Jumana ElHeloueh