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Rory McIlroy lands his first hole in one at Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship

Rory McIlroy has scored his first ever professional hole in one as he was on the charge on the opening morning of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

In his first appearance of the year, the Northern Irishman picked up a shot at the 10th - his opening hole - but dropped back to level par before coming into his own with a hat-trick of birdies just after the turn.

Another birdie, after a superb putt at the seventh, lifted the world number one to four under after 16 holes - two shots behind joint leader and playing partner Rickie Fowler, who topped the leaderboard alongside Belgium's Thomas Pieters and Branden Grace of South Africa.

On a crisp morning in the United Arab Emirates, McIlroy's sumptuous chip to 10ft gave him the chance to begin his season with a birdie, and he did not pass it up.

That failed to inspire McIlroy, though, and he struggled to create many birdie chances before eventually bogeying the 17th after a wayward 8ft putt.

The 25-year-old appeared in trouble on the third after his tee shot left him on the lip of a bunker but he superbly managed to get his approach shot onto the green before holing for birdie.

Two more birdies followed and he then holed a 15ft putt on the seventh to leave himself in a decent position.

Fowler, making his debut appearance in this tournament, was two strokes ahead of his rival following a, so far, blemish-free round.

Birdies at the 15th, 17th, first, fourth, fifth and seventh saw the American storm to the top of the leaderboard.

France's Gregory Bourdy is on his own in fourth on five under, while England's Tom Lewis made a hole in one on the par-three 200-yard seventh for the 10th ace in tounament history and third on that hole.

Further reading

When Rory McIlroy met Brian O'Driscoll - a drop goal battle with a difference

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