ABU DHABI – Give Round 1 to the scrappy Ulsterman, but it was a TKO by nearly every measure.
Rory McIlroy scrambled liked, well, Tiger Woods for a 5-under 67 and a share of the lead at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, while Woods hit 17 of 18 greens but read them like a sixth-grader picking his way through an Ayn Rand tome and is three back following an uneventful 70.
Woods vs. McIlroy. Old vs. young. Present meet future.
Not that the 36-years-young Woods was conceding anything to the 22-year-old. In fact, in a moment of honesty, McIlroy conceded he did get lulled into a long-driving contest with the former world No. 1.
“It did cross my mind a couples of time,” McIlroy said. “He took it way left on the (dogleg left) 16th. I was like, I’m not sure if I can take it down that line. When you see a guy out in front of you hitting it out there, you want to try and keep up with him.”
McIlroy didn’t keep up with Woods, flaring his drive right, but has a share of the lead following a few scrambling birdies, including a 40-footer from off the green at the eighth, and a bogey-free final nine.
“He didn’t drive it very good today, but he hit a lot of quality irons when he was in position to do it and his short game is great,” Woods said. “The putts that he made, they didn’t lip in, they poured in. It’s one of the reasons why he had a great year last year.”
Watch live coverage of Tiger Woods' second round beginning at 3AM ET Friday. Saturday and Sunday action airs live from 4-8AM ET.