McIlroy, Lowry share Dubai lead

European Tour

Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry carded six-under-par 66s to share the lead of the DP World Tour Championship after Thursday’s first round.

McIlroy was at his imperious best throughout the round and played the type of golf that saw him be crowned as the Race to Dubai champion and carded six birdies and no bogeys in a flawless round at the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

The world number one started in sublime form, birdying four of his first five holes, but a run of nine successive pars halted some of his early momentum.

Lowry, on the other hand, started his round slowly before notching birdies on four of the last six holes.

“I have been playing well for most of the year. I’ve been very consistent. I’ve been shooting some great scores, making a lot of birdies and I did that today again,” Lowry told the European Tour’s website after the round.

One shot off the pace were Scotland’s Richie Ramsay and Thorbjørn Olesen at five-under, while defending champion Henrik Stenson and unheralded Argentinean Emiliano Grillo.

“I’m really happy. Obviously it was a great start, three birdies on the spin, and then played lovely in the middle, had a lot of chances but just didn’t take a few,” Ramsay said.

“But most important was I stayed patient, stayed with it. I kept on hitting good shots and then took a couple of chances on 14 and 15 and then finished off pretty solid coming down the stretch.

“I played great in the middle part of the season. I know the game is there. (It’s) just a matter of staying out of my own way and committing to it.”

Olesen looked destined to go the clubhouse in the lead, but a double bogey on 16 saw the Dane drop down the field again.

“It feels like a second home golf course for me really,” Olesen said.

“I played lovely, hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens. Hit a few really close, and the putter was working nicely. It was a really solid day.

“When you’re seven under going to 16, and you know you have 18 which is a possible birdie chance, also, of course it’s a little bit disappointing, but I took a chance and it didn’t work out very well.

“I felt like it was going so well and I felt like I could pull it off – that’s what happens in golf.”

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