Woods and McIlroy struggle early at Abu Dhabi Golf Championship
BY Associated Press
Friday, January 18, 2013
1/18/13 at 5:49 AM
With Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods struggling, fifth-ranked Justin Rose and unheralded Jamie Donaldson had 5-under 67s Thursday for a one-shot lead after the opening round of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
McIlroy, playing with new clubs following his multimillion dollar sponsorship deal with Nike, finished with a 75 and risks missing the cut. Woods shot an even-par 72.
Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark and Pablo Larrazabal of Spain finished one stroke behind the leaders.
McIllroy repeatedly missed fairways, including a shot on the 12th that hit a tree and ended up in a parking lot, leading to one of his two double bogeys. His other came when he muffed a chip in thick rough on the par-3 6th. He also putted poorly, missing a par putt on the 17th and a birdie putt on the 18th.
The top-ranked McIlroy insisted his difficulties had more to do with rusty strokes than the new equipment that he hyped only a few days ago. While he repeatedly slumped after a bad shot or frowned following a missed putt, the 2012 European Tour and U.S. PGA Tour money winner seemed resigned to adjusting to the new Nike clubs.
"When you go out and you've got new stuff, you are going to be a little anxious and hopefully you play well," McIlroy said. "But I guess I can learn from it and move on and go into tomorrow and try and play a bit better. It's about playing yourself into the weekend."
Woods had four birdies and four bogeys and ended his round by three-putting his 18th for a bogey when he hit the second putt too hard.
Mickelson opens season with 72: In La Quinta, Calif., Phil Mickelson opened his season with an eventful even-par 72 in the Humana Challenge, leaving him nine strokes behind the first-round leaders.
Recovering from flu-like symptoms, the 42-year-old Mickelson had three birdies, a bogey and a double bogey at La Quinta Country Club - one of three courses used in the pro-am event that he won in 2002 and 2004.
"I felt a lot better," Mickelson said. "I took it easy on Monday and Tuesday. It was like Day 10, but I'm fine now. I'm 95 percent better. I'm not contagious and the energy's coming back. I've been able to practice. I played a little bit yesterday and it's fine."
Jason Kokrak, Roberto Castro and James Hahn topped the leaderboard at 9-under 63.
Original Print Headline: Woods, McIlroy deal with early struggles
Justin Rose of England tees off in front of a billboard on the seventh hole during Thursday's first round of Abu Dhabi Golf Championship in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. MANUEL SALAZAR/Associated Press