Rose, whose last visit to the Gulf in December for the World Tour Championship in Dubai saw him close with a 62, took off where he left off as he went out in four under 32 en route to a five-under 67.
That put him alongside Welshman Jamie Donaldson, with rising Dane Thorbjorn Olesen and Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal third equal a further stroke back. On 69 were a quintet comprising George Coetzee of South Africa, China’s Liang Wen-Chong, Englishman David Howell, Henrik Stenson of Sweden and Michael Campbell of New Zealand. Woods had four birdies offset by as many bogeys for a level par 72, while McIlroy’s first competitive outing with his new Nike clubs ended in frustration as he struggled to a 75 that included two double bogeys.
Blame me not the clubs: McIlroy
It was a case of back to the drawing board, or at least back to the driving range, for Rory McIlroy as his first outing with his new Nike clubs, ended in frustration.
The World No 1 announced the switch from long-time sponsors Titleist to Nike in a mega-money 10-year deal on Monday despite warnings from some quarters that the change of clubs that entailed could present him with problems. McIlroy has been hard at work getting used to the new sticks over his winter break, but all that came to little avail as he struggled to a three over 75 in the first round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.