Rory McIlroy underwhelming, Fleetwood & Morikawa start strong

Rory McIlroy was well off the pace after day one of the Dubai Desert Classic on the DP World Tour.

Rory McIlroy underwhelming, Fleetwood & Morikawa start strong
Rory McIlroy underwhelming, Fleetwood & Morikawa start strong

Rory McIlroy was well off the pace after the first round of the Dubai Desert Classic.

By day's end, it was Denmark's Joachim B. Hansen who had the clubhouse lead with a sublime 7-under 65 at Emirates Golf Club on the DP World Tour. 

For the second Rolex Series event in as many weeks, Northern Irishman McIlroy cut a somewhat frustrated figure as he struggled with an opening 1-under 71. 

No disgrace by any means, but being six strokes off the pace after 18 holes is not what the 32-year-old would want, having spoken about the frusration of his slow starts recently. 

McIlroy made four birdies and three bogeys. His score was only one shot better than he managed in his opening round last week in Abu Dhabi. 

A Dane hits the front



The story of the day belonged to Denmark's Hansen, who sits in the clubhouse with a one-shot lead over South Africa's Justin Harding. 

Hansen is a two-time winner on the DP World Tour. The 31-year-old signed for a bogey-free round which included four birdies back-to-back from the second. 

A host of names find themselves at 5-under, including Spaniards Pablo Larrazabal and Sergio Garcia. 

Andrea Pavan, Tommy Fleetwood, journeyman Thongchai Jaidee and Fabrizio Zannotti also started with 67s. 

Pavan had played 19 events in 2021, missing the cut 14 times. At Emirates Golf Club he finally returned to some form. 

Viktor Hovland is also in the mix after a solid 67. 

Related: Rory McIlroy says Harry Maguire is a great leader

Morikawa's blistering back nine

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The world number two, Collin Morikawa, is three strokes behind the lead after his first 18 holes. 

Morikawa, 24, made a birdie at the second but followed that with bogeys at six, eight and nine. 

From there, he made no bogeys on a sensational back nine. A birdie at 10 set him up for a charge. Another followed at 12. 

Morikawa then made four birdies consecutively from the 15th to thrust himself back into contention when it was going the wrong way. 

He told the media: 

"It was a disappointing finish but I've been working Monday through Wednesday, even into yesterday late after the Pro-Am, trying to figure things out. When you are thinking about so much, you always have to remember to go play golf.

"I'm happy with four under. Not thrilled, but to see just some things that I've been working on just show up on the course was really nice. Literally once I tee the ball to once I take the ball out of the cup, I've been thinking about everything, trying to figure out what to do."

Leaderboard top-10

JB. Hansen -7

J. Hardin -6

P. Larrazabal -5

S. Garcia -5

A. Pavan -5

T. Fleetwood -5

T. Jaidee -5

F. Zannotti -5

K. Samooja -4

C. Morikawa -4

S. Garcia Rodriguez -4

V. Hovland -4

K. Aphibarnrat -4

Next page: Throwback to one of Tiger Woods' most creative shots

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