Rory McIlroy shares lead after opening round of Hong Kong Open

Rory McIlroy ended the first round of the Hong Kong Open in a three-way tie for the lead on six under par

rory mcilroy
Rory McIlroy: Tied for the lead in Hong Kong Photo: Ed, via Flickr

rory mcilroy

Rory McIlroy is tied for the lead after the first round of the UBS Hong Kong Open after shooting an opening six under par 64.

In doing so, he has kept alive his faint chance of overturning the almost unassailable monetary deficit between himself and Luke Donald in the Race to Dubai standings.

McIlroy had six birdies and no dropped shots in a windy morning round in Fanling, and sits pretty atop the leaderboard alongside Englishman David Horsey and big-hitting Spaniard Alvaro Quiros.

Horsey also went bogey-free, this time in the afternoon, as did Quiros, who chipped in for birdie and a tie for the lead at his final hole of the day.

McIlory, reflecting on the conditions, labelled the wind “a big factor”, adding: “the greens are a lot firmer and faster than they usually are.”

It is another promising start from the young Ulsterman, who has this season not achieved the victory tally that was perhaps expected. “This year, I’ve definitely let two or three slip away from me,” he admitted.

A shot further back of the trio sits the evergreen and ever popular Miguel Angel Jimenez, who recorded a five under par 65.

The race for victory is only one of the plots emanating this week, and the round of the day undoubtedly came from McIlory’s compatriot, Gareth Maybin. Going into his last event of the 2011 European Tour Season, and placed precariously at 120th position in the Race to Dubai (top 118 eligible for 2012 season), he carded a magnificent four under par 66 to give himself a great chance of maintaining full playing privileges next season.

Keith Horne, 119th in the Race to Dubai, had a disappointing two over par 72, and will need to rally tomorrow to make the cut. If he fails, he will only have himself to blame, as the four players directly above him in the standings are not playing this week.

One of the favourites for the title, Justin Rose, had a terrible day at the office, carding a four over par 74, and defending champion Ian Poulter shot an uninspiring one over par 71. Padraig Harrington recorded three birdies and three bogeys for a level par round of 70.

At the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City, South Africa, home sensation Charl Schwartzel is tied for the lead with one half of England’s team consistent, Lee Westwood.

The other half, Luke Donald, shot a two under par 70 after sacrificing the lead with a double bogey at the treacherous 17th. Schwartzel struggled off the tee to post a one over par front nine, but “got cross” on the back side, rectified his driving, shot at every pin, and ultimately took 31 shots for an overall 68.

Robert Karlsson is alone in third on three under par, and two former major champions, Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer, lurk a further shot back after carding two-under par 70s.

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