Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings following a disappointing 2017, but McIlroy returned for his first tournament in months at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and is in contention after two solid rounds.
McIlroy matched Dunne. Playing his round in front of the Sky Sports cameras, the four-time major victor was in truly captivating form. I've never won my first start back out. I was close previous year in South Africa, Stormy (Graeme Storm) beat me in a play-off.
"Winning would mean a lot".
"So you've just got to roll with it".
All up, Fox has gone birdie, birdie, par, birdie, bogey, birdie, par, eagle, par to go out in 31 strokes. "I'm excited to get back on the horse and give myself another chance tomorrow". I'm in a really good place, and a couple of the guys played some unbelievable golf, and you can't do anything about that.
The youngster who practices 3 to 4 times a week and aspiring to being a golf professional one day had been emotional on hearing the news of his prize of playing with his hero.
"I don't think there will be that much celebrating going on".
With 43 players driving an average distance of more than 300 yards last season, there have been some calls to alter the specification of balls to limit how far they fly. "If I can tidy up that part of it a little bit, I feel like I've got a really good chance this weekend".
"Not just for this week but for the rest of the season". But I just took a deep breath and did my best with my 3-wood.
"I feel like he's my little mascot. Just been trying to play my game, and it's going pretty well so far, so I'll try and do the same thing". "The conditions got very windy and 17 and 18 were playing very tough".
The three time major victor hit eight birdies and one bogey, his first of the tournament, to move up to 16 under par, one behind co-leaders Thomas Pieters and Ross Fisher. "It was good", said McIlroy. "I missed a lot of putts today".
A large group of nine players follow on four under, two back, including Matthew Fitzpatrick, Paul Dunne, Mikko Ilonen and Scottish duo Richie Ramsay and Stephen Gallacher. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder?
In the PGA Tour's year-opening Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, the American almost aced a 433-yard par-4 hole en route to winning the champions-only event by a whopping eight shots over Jon Rahm.