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Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy both left frustrated after opening round at Dubai Desert Classic


Rory McIlroy is seeking a third win in the Dubai Desert Classic (Brian Lawless/PA)

Rory McIlroy is seeking a third win in the Dubai Desert Classic (Brian Lawless/PA)


Rory McIlroy is seeking a third win in the Dubai Desert Classic (Brian Lawless/PA)

Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry endured a frustrating morning as they opened with one-under 71s to trail Spanish duo Sergio García and Pablo Larrázabal by four shots in the slync.io Dubai Desert Classic.

The Irish Ryder Cup stars ended their days tied for 33rd with Clandeboye's Jonny Caldwell, who had three birdies and two bogeys in a one-under round.

McIlroy was three-under after five holes but struggled with his swing and found water with his approach and bogeyed the 18th, then followed a birdie at the first with bogeys at the second and seventh.

The world number eight was playing alongside Collin Morikawa, who raced to seven-under after 11 holes only to drop three shots in his last four holes for a 68.

McIlroy hooked his tee shot into the bushes at the driveable second and had to take a penalty drop before dropping another shot at the par-three seventh, where he missed the green and an eight-footer for par.

"I started well,” McIlroy said as he headed to the range. “I hit the ball nicely. I thought I hit the ball nicely most of the day, there were a couple of loose shots in there.

“I got away with the tee shot on 17 and then the last few holes, I feel like I bogeyed three of the easiest holes on the course in 18, 2, and 7.

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“So, a couple of bad decisions or mental mistakes, and then maybe made a couple of bad swings in there as well.

“Overall, the course is tricky, firm greens. I thought I did most things pretty well but just need to tidy a few things up, which is where I am going right now.”

It was also a trying day for Lowry, who headed straight for the putting green after finishing his round with back-to-back bogeys.

The newly relaid greens proved a test for most, and while Lowry birdied his opening hole, the 10th, from five feet and made a nine-footer at the 14th and a 16-footer at the fourth for another birdie, he missed five birdie chances inside 15 feet with the most frustrating of them a three-putt par from 36 feet at the par-five 18th.

There were no such worries for Larrazábal and Garcia, who signed for five-under 67s to lead by a shot in the clubhouse from Morikawa and Finland's Kalle Samooja.

"It was good,' García said after a bogey-free round. "I think obviously got a little bit more challenging the last couple of holes with the left-to-right wind into on those two strong holes.

"Made a couple nice par saves at the right times and kept it in play for the most part. Hit a good amount of greens and when I didn't, my chipping and putting was there to help me. So that was good."

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