McIlroy feeling 'a little different' but happy with injury return

  • McIlroy feeling 'a little different' but happy with injury return

McIlroy feeling 'a little different' but happy with injury return

"(It's my) first competitive round in over a hundred days, so it's a little bit different.

It's easy for Dustin Johnson to say, what with his prodigious average of 315 yards off the tee - second only to Rory McIlroy's 317 yards previous year - but the world No. 1 thinks the game is hard enough without curbing how far players can hit golf balls.

"I started off with 11 pars and it could have been a lot better than that so I tried to stay as patient as possible". It's another season, a season that I feel like I'm as prepared for as any season I've started as a professional.

Nick Dougherty and Andrew Coltart review the faultless performances of Rory McIlroy and leader Tommy Fleetwood on the opening day of the Abu Dhabi Championship.

"It was a great pairing to go out with, Dustin and Tommy". Photos: Best golf images 2018New Year's heave: Golf in 2018 teed off in Hawaii where the views are always spectacular.

After the injury troubles which beset McIlroy's 2017 nobody could reasonably grudge him a few of them.

"He's got tremendous talent and I'm absolutely convinced he'll win the grand slam", added Player, who won nine majors in his career. "Doesn't matter how long I play". It was a good round of golf.

Fleetwood didn't miss a green in regulation, endorsing his new-found love for a course which once made him grimace.

The defending champion looked set to retain his clubhouse lead until the close, but he was joined by last week's EurAsia Cup opponent Tanihara late in the day when he rolled in his sixth birdie putt of his 66 at the ninth - his final hole.

Fleetwood, like McIlroy, relished his grouping. "I sort of knew what I was expecting out there but at the same time, you never really know".

Interestingly, Johnson "kinda" agreed with Woods' suggestion that pros ought to use reduced-distance balls with the same specifications before apparently altering his views ahead of the Abu Dhabi event.

"Very stress-free", Fleetwood said after the round. Last year's European Tour Player of the Year, Fleetwood has picked up where he left off last season. "It felt like I did what you need to do well around this golf course which is drive it well, hit your irons but you can't really be too greedy all the time".

Scottish pair Richie Ramsay and Stephen Gallacher opened with solid 68s along with British Masters champions Matt Fitzpatrick and Paul Dunne, while fan-favourite Andrew Johnston is also just two strokes off the pace after his five-birdie effort. He then made two starts on the European Tour before starting his off-season.

"(Last year) I played with David Lipsky and Kristoffer Broberg for two rounds", he revealed.