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Slow starts for McIlroy, Woods
Last updated: 18th January 2013
World numbers one and two Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods endured disappointing returns to action in the first round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on Thursday.
McIlroy competed alongside his Nike stablemate Woods, but recorded two double-bogeys and dropped another shot to card a three-over par 75.
While Woods fared slightly better after signing for a level-par 72, it was hardly the dream pairing that had been hoped for, with McIlroy in particular struggling throughout the round.
Starting on the back-nine, he smashed his tee shot over the green on the short 15th and then drove out of bounds on the long third to compound his woes. Then on the 18th, he pulled a wood from the fairway so wide that it finished behind one of the hospitality units besides the green.
However the world's top-ranked player did pick up two shots over the course of the round to lift his mood slightly.
"I feel like I was just a little bit rusty," he admitted to Sky Sports after the round.
"I didn't drive the ball particularly well which you need to around here because the rough is very thick and I didn't hole any putts. I didn't drive it well and I didn't putt well so I'll have to work on that this afternoon."
"For the most part I was very happy with everything (equipment), I just have to work on a couple of things."
Woods carded four birdies during his round of 72, but dropped four shots as well, which included a shocking drive off the tee on the first hole that didn't even reach the fairway. Then on the second, he dragged his approach into the rough and failed to make in up and down.
"My game plan was three-iron or five-wood and then I changed," Woods said afterwards. "I was not committed to the shot - I should have backed off.
"I had a strategy; I didn't keep to it and paid the price."
While the world's top two players were underperforming, World No 5 Justin Rose and Welshman Jamie Donaldson showed how the course should be played.
The duo will head into the second round with a one-shot lead after carding rounds of five-under-par 67.
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