Rory McIlroy begins 2024 with a bang in Dubai: "I didn't expect that"

Rory McIlroy began his 2024 with a bang at the Dubai Invitational, carding a bogey-free 9-under 62 on the DP World Tour.

Ben Smith's picture
Thu, 11 Jan 2024
Rory McIlroy begins 2024 with a bang in Dubai: "I didn't expect that"

Rory McIlroy says he surprised himself after he raced into the day one lead at the Dubai Invitational

A magnificent McIlroy, using a new driver, 3-wood and putter, hit nine birdies on his way to a bogey-free 9-under 62 at Dubai Creek Resort. 

By day's end he had opened up a two-shot lead over Germany's Yannik Paul. 

England's Tommy Fleetwood is also inside the top-10 after an opening 65. 

"Yeah, I didn't expect that," McIlroy told reporters.  

"It didn't feel quite as good as that the first couple of days when I was here and hitting balls and playing the course.

"But it was nice to get a card in the hand again and sort of feel the competitive juices flowing."

McIlroy began his round on the back nine and picked up two birdies across his first six holes. 

The Northern Irishman then went on a blitz, picking up strokes in five holes out of six from the 17th. 

Watch one of McIlroy's shots here:

The Dubai Invitational consists of only 60 professional players and 60 amateurs. 

The first three days of play consists of a 54-hole Pro-Am tournament. Only the professionals will play on the final day.  

McIlroy feels as though the relaxed atmosphere contributed to his good score in round one. 

He explained: "All those Pro-Ams [I] either play with my dad or this week I'm playing with the tournament host. So maybe [there is] added pressure there as well to go out and perform.

"It's a very easy way to sort of get back into things and this is a nice week to do some extra practise and put some work in so that, you know, I feel a bit more ready not just for next week, which is obviously a bigger event, but also going into the bulk of the season."

McIlroy will stay in Dubai after this event. 

Next week he will bid to become the first four-time winner of the Dubai Desert Classic. 

The four-times major champion has won the tournament in 2009, 2015 and 2023. 

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