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Rory McIlroy shares lead in Hong Kong Open

by Nick Briggs

Rory McIlroy was delighted with his excellent start to the Hong Kong Open which helped him to a share of the clubhouse lead after the first round today.

Holywood hero McIlroy picked up six birdies and did not drop a shot in his opening six under 64 to go to the top of the leaderboard alongside England’s David Horsey and Alavro Quiros from Spain.

McIlroy's compatriot Gareth Maybin also had a great opening day hitting a 66.

Ballyclare’s MNaybin needs a good tournament to secure his European Tour card for next year.

He has certainly made a fine start and will hope for even better in the remainder of the tournament.

It is evident already though that McIlroy is the man to stop.

He has been in top form of late and certainly continued in that vein today.

Starting on the 10th, McIlroy picked up birdies at the 14th and 16th courtesy of holing mid-range putts to reach the turn in 33 before a sand wedge to inside three feet at the first brought another.

The 22-year-old moved to four under at the next and although his drive from the fifth tee found the bunker, a superb recovery allowed him to knock in a short putt for his fifth birdie of the day before adding his sixth at the next.

“It was very good, a solid round of golf, I didn't make a mistake,” he said.

“Six birdies and no bogeys is always a nice way to start the tournament.

“I played very solid from the first hole, hit two good shots into the 10th and made a good par there, which was probably the toughest hole we played all day.

“I just gave myself a lot of chances — I think I hit 17 greens and a lot of fairways — and I was able to take a few, which was nice.

“I wasn’t hitting the ball that well on the range before I went out but once on the course I was doing fine.

“The first round score gives me a good platform to build on for the rest of the week.”

McIlroy of course is aiming to oust Luke Donald from the top of the European Tour money list.

He will have tpo keep an eye on Quiros and Horsey who also had rounds of 64, while Miguel Angel Jimenez is a shot further adrift following a 65.

Oliver Fisher and Richie Ramsay both signed for 68s to sit two under par but a couple of late bo

geys cost Paul Lawrie as the Scot eventually settled for a 69.

Meanwhile, defending champion Ian Poulter, playing alongside McIlroy, opened with a one-over 71 as the Englishman carded two bogeys and a birdie.

“It was a tricky day out there, windy,” said Poulter.

“Scoring wasn't going to be anywhere near as good. Obviously I'm disappointed, I actually played quite nicely and didn't hole a putt out there.

“I've got work to do tomorrow, this golf course will play tougher.

“When you get a wind in the direction it was today, which is not a prevailing wind, it makes the course tricky.

“There's some golf to play, that’s for sure.”

John Daly wobbled to an unimpressive four-over after shooting six bogeys and one double-bogey.

Meanwhile three of the world's top four will contest the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City this week, with a first prize of almost £800,000 up for grabs.

World number three Lee Westwood is the defending champion after his commanding eight-shot victory last year, but he faces tough competition from world number one Luke Donald and number four Martin Kaymer.

Donald has already won the money list on the US PGA Tour and looks certain to top the European Tour's Race to Dubai, making him the first player to achieve such a double.

The Englishman has not played for five weeks, during which time he experienced the death of his father and birth of his second daughter.

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