Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods fail to impress at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Last Updated: 17/01/13 3:25pm

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McIlroy off the pace

Sky Bet

Rory McIlroy endured a disappointing return to action after failing to impress during the first round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Competing alongside new Nike stablemate Tiger Woods, the 23-year-old recorded two double-bogeys and dropped a further shot as he carded a three-over 75.

But it was hardly the dream pairing that had been hoped for, with McIlroy struggling throughout.

He sprayed a tee shot way over the short 15th - his sixth hole - and then drove out of bounds on the 439-yard third to record his doubles, while he pulled a fairway wood on the 18th so wide it finished behind one of the greenside hospitality units.

The world No 1 did pick up two shots to lessen the impact but that would have done little to lift McIlroy's mood.

Afterwards he admitted he lacked sharpness, telling Sky Sports: "I feel like I was just a little bit rusty.

"I didn't drive the ball particularly well which you need to around here because the rough is very thick and I didn't hole any putts. I didn't drive it well and I didn't putt well so I'll have to work on that this afternoon."

Work to do

However, he refused to blame his form on his recent switch of equipment, adding: "For the most part I was very happy with everything (equipment), I just have to work on a couple of things."

Woods fared slightly better after signing for a level-par 72, however, he too had plenty of moments to forget.

The world No 2 - who saw McIlroy unveiled as his Nike colleague on Monday in a multi-million deal - saw four birdies cancelled out by four dropped shots.

He also hit a shocking drive off the first tee which failed to reach the fairway, while on the second hole he dragged his third shot into rough and failed to get up and down.

But while the world's top two were struggled, Welshman Jamie Donaldson and Justin Rose of England showed how the course should be played. The pair both shot rounds of 67, including chipping in from bunkers, to hold a one-shot lead after the opening day.

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