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'Shot of the year' propels McIlroy to 64 in Dubai

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In a year with four victories, the FedExCup and PGA Tour Player of the Year honors, there have been plenty of highlight-worthy shots for Rory McIlroy. But the Ulsterman may have outdone himself during the opening round of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.

"Honestly, it's possibly the best shot I've hit all year," McIlroy said.

The swing to which he was referring was his approach to the par-5 18th, a 286-yard missile of a 3-wood that found the green and rolled to within 5 feet. It set up a closing eagle for McIlroy to finish off an 8-under 64 that left him alone in second place at the European Tour's season finale and just one shot behind Mike Lorenzo-Vera.

"I usually carry my 3-wood about 280 yards off the deck," McIlroy said. "It was right on the limit, but as soon as I hit it I knew it was perfect."

McIlroy has won this tournament twice before, most recently in 2015, and a victory this week would tie his personal best with five wins in a calendar year. He got off to a hot start with five birdies over his first seven holes before dropping his lone shot of the day at No. 12 and failing to birdie the par-5 14th.


Full-field scores from the DP World Tour Championship


Where in previous instances he might have tried to manufacture a rally down the closing stretch, he instead tried to relax and rely on his patience. The results then came in a flourish: birdies on Nos. 15 and 16 before he uncorked a memorable shot from the 18th fairway.

"Just a little more of, 'You're still 4 under par, there's a lot of golf left in this golf tournament,'" McIlroy said. "Just trying not to push it too much. It's funny, it's sort of counter-intuitive. The less you try to push it, it seems the lower the scores are."