Round one of the newly minted “Tiger vs. Rory” battle went to Tiger Woods, although it looked more like a consolation match than the main event.
As high winds swept across the Abu Dhabi desert, Woods opened with three pars, added in a bogey on the 13th (his fourth hole of the day) and coupled a two-under front-nine with a two over back nine for an even par opening round of 72.
McIlroy appeared to be off to a better start when he opened with three straight pars and then birdied the par four 13th (also his fourth hole of the day), but double bogeys at 15 and three eventually led to a three-over par round of 75.
Woods is currently tied for 34th and McIlroy, who hit just six of 14 fairways off the tee on Thursday, is tied for 87th and endanger of missing the cut in his first event with his new Nike equipment.
“When you go out and have some new stuff you can be a little anxious,” McIlroy said after his round.
While Woods and McIlroy’s Nike bromance quickly turned into a game of survivor at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Jamie Donaldson or Wales and Justin Rose of England each posted rounds of 67 and are currently tied for the lead through round one.
Woods is still very much in the tournament while McIlroy will have some work to do over the next two days if he wants to be in contention come Sunday.
“I’ll go to the range and work on it. It will be fine,” McIlroy said.
While we’re only one round into the 2013 season, and McIlroy’s level of natural talent would likely allow him to be as successful with a set of hickory irons and persimmon woods as he was with his Titleist equipment over the past few years, you can be assured that there is some sweating going on in Beaverton, Oregon this morning.