Rory McIlroy happy to be in the mix in Abu Dhabi

"I did well, I stayed patient and I gave myself loads of chances"

BY Darren Cleary 12:45 Thursday 18 January 2018, 12:45 18 Jan 2018

Kamran Jebreili/AP/Press Association Images

Rory McIlroy is three shots off the lead at the HSBC Championship in Abu Dhabi.

He's carded a three under bogey free opening round of 69. His playing partner Tommy Fleetwood tops the leaderboard on 6 under.

McIlroy was pleased with his round on what was his first competitive start since last October.


"It was nice. I sort of knew what I was expecting out there but at the same time, you never really know.

"First competitive round in over a hundred days, so it's a little bit different. But I did well, I stayed patient, I gave myself loads of chances and started the day with 11 straight pars, so I was trying to stay as patient as possible, and it was nice to birdie three of the last seven there and get in under 70.

"Getting that first birdie was nice, I holed a nice putt there and then rattled off a couple more and gave myself a lot of chances straight away. Once I got a little bit of momentum going, I could go with it, and I think after the start and parring so many holes, anything under 70 was pretty good.

"I'm really pleased, actually, I played very solid. I think only missed one or two greens. Drove the ball well, iron play was pretty good, so just need to keep doing that over the next three days and I should have a chance."

"The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and things I needed to work on health-wise and all that sort of stuff."

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