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Rory McIlroy sure new clubs can help bid for double joy

By Adam McKendry

Rory McIlroy says he's happy with how he's adjusted to his new clubs as he continues his quest for a rare FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai double.

McIlroy is in Shanghai this weekend, at Sheshan International Golf Club, competing at the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament.

The Holywood man, who has already secured the FedEx Cup, and the $11million prize money that came with it, is now in the hunt to become only the second person to complete the coveted double of winning the Order of Merit titles on both the PGA and European Tours.

Swede Henrik Stenson is the only man to do it thus far, back in 2013, but should McIlroy finish the final three events of the season strongly then he stands an excellent chance of emulating his Ryder Cup team-mate's achievement.

The 28-year old is around a million points behind Masters champion Danny Willett, but with each pound of prize money equating to one point in the Race to Dubai standings, winning this week in China and earning the €1.5million on offer for the winner will close that gap significantly, and perhaps even send the Ulsterman to the top of the standings.

McIlroy's task was made significantly harder, however, when sponsors Nike announced they would stop the manufacture of their clubs, leaving the World No.3 in need of a new set of clubs.

But having made the switch this week to a driver and 3-wood made by Taylormade, sticking for the moment with his Nike irons and wedges, McIlroy said he was delighted with his start off the tee.

"I felt like I drove the ball really well," McIlroy said. "I've been driving the ball well anyway, but yeah, it was nice to see the ball flying where it was going.

"I would say I would have been level without them and maybe a little bit behind before. When conditions are like this and it's so soft, it goes a long way in the air. Hopefully that can be to my benefit over the weekend.

"I felt like with the way I hit it, I probably could have squeezed a couple more out of my rounds. I feel I did everything okay. I just didn't really get any momentum going."

•IRELAND'S Seamus Power holds a share of the lead after the first round of the Sandersons Farm Championship.

Power is on seven-under par after shooting an opening round of 65, with America's Troy Mullinax sharing the lead after the first round in Mississippi.

The event is one of the smaller events on the PGA Tour, but provides Power with an opportunity to record a good result in his second tournament since his promotion from the Tour.

Ian Poulter is also competing and is on two-under after an opening round of 70.

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