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Rory McIlroy's comeback ahead of schedule in Abu Dhabi

Rory McIlroy's comeback ahead of schedule in Abu Dhabi”

McIlroy has a remarkable record in Abu Dhabi, with four second-place finishes, two thirds and a fifth in his past eight starts, but missed last year's event with the rib injury which disrupted his entire season.

Tanihara matched his 66 late in the afternoon with a bogey free effort that included a birdie at his final hole, the 9th.

The four-time major victor called an early end to his winless campaign, just the second of his professional career, in October, but reaped the rewards of some hard work over the winter with an opening three-under-par 69.

It's pretty awesome that a young kid was able to go out there and hit such an wonderful shot next to his idol and I'm sure it's a moment he'll never forget.

Brit Ross Fisher produced another solid round of 67, matching his efforts of five-under on day one.

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is one of three top-ten players in the field.

Fleetwood, the reigning Race to Dubai champion on the European Tour, agreed. The 40-year-old Englishman re-joined the European Tour towards the end of 2017, having not played for more than two seasons. "Five shots to make up over the weekend is quite a lot especially with a bunched leaderboard, so to cut that deficit to three, I feel so much closer to the lead". "Previous year was the first time being here, obviously playing four rounds in the tournament definitely helps", said Johnson. "But I'm obviously delighted with the two days' work, all safely through to the weekend". A bogey-free 69, I can't really complain. That might be the best one I get. That all helps. Off the tee was decent and I rolled in a couple of putts which was nice.

Johnson said he was eager to get back to Augusta National and compete in the Masters after missing the event a year ago when he reportedly slipped on a wet staircase and hurt himself on the eve of the tournament. "I wasn't expecting to see him on the tee there - I was a little bit surprised to see him inside the ropes but he hit a great shot". On the back nine, he found his composure and birdied 10th and 11th and added another on 18th, just like the first day.

Johnson is paired with McIlroy and Fleetwood for the opening rounds, while Rose goes out with Olympic silver medalist Stenson and bronze victor Kuchar.



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