Rory McIlroy starts strong before darkness delay at Hero Dubai Desert Classic

Rory McIlroy and his playing partners Tommy Fleetwood and Ryan Fox shook hands before the end of their round on Thursday in Dubai due to a shortage of daylight.

Rory McIlroy starts strong before darkness delay at Hero Dubai Desert Classic
Rory McIlroy starts strong before darkness delay at Hero Dubai Desert…

Rory McIlroy got to within three shots of the lead at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic in round one before darkness halted play.

Overnight rain caused a delay of over six hours and a large chunk of the field didn't begin their first round at Emirates Golf Club, but McIlroy got underway with playing partners Tommy Fleetwood and Ryan Fox.

The Northern Irishman, looking for his third win at this DP World Tour event, made two birdies and two bogeys in his opening nine holes. He added birdies on holes 2 and 3 having started on the 10th hole.

McIlroy and Fleetwood are yet to complete holes 7, 8 and 9, while Fox managed to complete hole 7. At 2-under, he trails the clubhouse leaders Matthew Jordan, Oliver Wilson and Daniel Gavins by two shots.

The four-time major champion is making his first start of 2023 at the second Rolex Series event of the year and he teed off with all eyes on him and Patrick Reed following tee-gate which occurred on Wednesday.

After McIlroy rejected Reed's pleasantries on the driving range, Reed threw a tee in his direction which McIlroy later confirmed he didn't see himself. He later described it as "a storm in a teacup" and suggested Reed wasn't living in reality.

Back in August, Reed's lead attorney Larry Klayman subpoenaed McIlroy and Woods for deposition after the PGA Tour players meeting that was held in Wilmington.

Reed started the tournament well on Thursday too. The former Masters champion made five birdies and one bogey in 16 holes. He has holes 17 and 18 left to finish on Friday.

The LIV Golf player said after the controversial incident: "If you're going to act like an immature little child then you might as well be treated like one."

At the top of the leaderboard at the $9 million event is Thomas Pieters on 5-under. The 30-year-old Belgian is looking for his seventh win on the DP World Tour and a perfect way to kick off a Ryder Cup campaign of his own.

Fox, who finished second in last season's DP World Tour Rankings, is one better than McIlroy on 3-under while Fleetwood is on the same mark as Reed on 4-under.

Tyrrell Hatton, Shane Lowry, Ewen Ferguson, Adrian Meronk and European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald are all yet to begin the tournament, which will resume at 8 am local time on Friday.



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