Abu Dhabi Championship: Rory McIlroy, Paul Casey and Tommy Fleetwood in contention

Jon Howard
January 20, 2018

It's pretty awesome that a young kid was able to go out there and hit such an unbelievable shot next to his idol and I'm sure it's a moment he'll never forget. He short-sided himself in the left bunker on the par-3 12th for his first bogey of the week and three-putted the par-4 14th - pulling a 3-footer and loudly asking "What?" - to drop another stroke.

"I felt like I gave myself tons of chances on the back nine and it was sort of hard to convert them", said McIlroy, who has finished second in the tournament four times.

Johnson is paired with McIlroy and Fleetwood for the opening rounds, while Rose goes out with Olympic silver medalist Stenson and bronze victor Kuchar.

"The size of the crowd seemed to get more and more as the day went on".

"I played well in Hawaii, but that was two weeks ago".

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"But I stayed patient and feel like I got what I deserved on the last for staying so patient and it was nice to finish with a three, leapfrog a few guys and get myself into contention for the weekend".

"I had close birdie putts over the last four holes and made two of them, so I think that kind of clicked, " said Rahm, set to defend his title next week at Torrey Pines. Just sort of did what you need to do well around here to get a good score. And he showed no signs of cooling off with his round on Thursday, which featured hitting all 18 greens in regulation.

Also making a massive move on the day was World No 1 Dustin Johnson. "But it was good fun and he hit a great shot, a really, really good little swing".

"I was excited to get going", McIlroy told Sky Sports. "It was a pretty easy 64". "And then to throw three wins in there and have a couple of other chances... that was a really, really strong run of golf, and I am looking forward to just keeping that momentum going as soon as possible". I'm right in the mix after two days.

"But who knows? I don't know how they would do it or what they would do or how long it would take them to be able to do it". Of late, the proponents of change have included the likes Tiger Woods and USGA director Mike Davis, who said increased distance is affecting the game "in a bad way". "It's starting to pay off and I feel like I'm in a good position".

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