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I felt a bit rusty - McIlroy


Rory McIlroy had a rough day in Abu Dhabi

Rory McIlroy had a rough day in Abu Dhabi

Rory McIlroy had a rough day in Abu Dhabi

Rory McIlroy admitted he was not as his best as he opened with a 75 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on Thursday.

Playing competitively with his new Nike clubs for the first time, the Northern Irishman hit two double bogeys on the opening day - one the result of a wild tee shot at a par three and the other a drive that struck a tree and went out of bounds - and is in a battle to survive the halfway cut.

"I feel like I was a little bit rusty, not playing any competitive golf for eight weeks," he said. His last tournament was in Dubai in November, when he birdied the last five holes to win the DP World Tour Championship.

"I didn't drive the ball particularly well, which you sort of need to round here because the rough is very thick. I actually hit my irons pretty well, but just didn't hole any putts. I'll work on that."

Asked if it was to be expected that it would take time to get used to the club switch, he replied: "Of course it does, but I'm really happy with the way the ball is in the wind - it was really stable - and the wedge play.

"I wasn't very comfortable off the tee, but just because I didn't feel like I was swinging it that well. I've been working leading up to Christmas and then obviously into the New Year, but it's a little bit of an experimental period and I have four weeks off after this tournament just to work on it."

Not that he has given up on the week.

"I feel like if I can just get comfortable and swing it a little better I can still play some good rounds here," he said. "I'm disappointed. I felt like I could have played better and shot a better score.

"I'm not overly concerned how I played. It wasn't quite what I wanted, but I felt there were a few good signs. I guess when you're going out with new stuff you're always going to be a little anxious."