Rory McIlroy said he was not concerned about laying down a marker to the world No1, Jordan Spieth, but his golf was doing that for him at the start of the Abu Dhabi Championship
It was a shame that a Rory McIlroy depicting described in masterclass words by Jordan Spieth was overshadowed by a rules controversy relating to the latter.
In continuing the sense of mutual appreciation at the Abu Dhabi Championship McIlroy described the slow-play alerting issued to Spieth as weird. The world No1 was equally baffled by the incident, which under new European Tour guidelines will cost him PS2, 000 if repeated over the next three days.
When already being watched by the chief referee, John Paramor, Spieth was reckoned to have taken too long over a putt on the 8th hole, his 17 th. Spieth admits a deliberate approach but believed he was perfectly entitled to be so, with no group waiting to play from the 8th fairway. Paramor spoke to Spieth as he walked from the 9th tee.
It was a bit odd, told Spieth after signing for a 68. The guys behind us hadnt even reached the fairway on a par-five. So it didnt make any sense to me.
Rory and Rickie[ Fowler] were very surprised. He[ Paramor] just came up and said you have got this and I told OK, Ill just move on with the hole. For it to be the last putt when they are 15 minutes behind us and were off the hole, it didnt make any sense to me.
I believe I was going over the time. I read the putt from behind the hole, looked up and couldnt even consider the group behind us at the tee box. So then I called Michael[ Greller, Spieths caddie] over and told Weve get hour, lets try and nail this thing down because we had been on the clock for a number of holes.
I understand that, if you are being period and you are taking longer than the allotted time, you get a bad hour. I understand the rule. But it doesnt make a whole lot of sense when the working group had caught up with the one in front, we were coming off the clock and it had no effect on the round. Its a little bit of a grey area. I didnt opposed it. I was respectful about it.
The fine, of course, would be loose change to Spieth but he will not want a reputation as a slow player he was spoken to about the same at last years Open, for example and this would mark an inauspicious debut on the regular European Tour.
McIlroy seemed to believe, as is a legitimate theory, that the tour could be a tad anxious to implement fresh legislation.
The Northern Irishman added: I was surprised Jordan got a bad hour on a putt when the guys behind werent even approaching their balls back on the fairway. Sometimes we need to apply some common sense, especially when we are not out of stance. Its not like Jordan is a slow player.
Paramor subsequently moved to clarify his stance. Pace of play on the European Tour is measured by whether a group maintains to the starting interval between groups, rather than if they are on the same hole, as it is in America, he said.
This unseemly business instead deflected from a terrific McIlroy start to the year. His 66 was likely the highest score possible amid such a performance, with opportunities slipping by on his back nine in particular.
That was the Rory that I have ensure win majors, Spieth told. It was spectacular. It was a pretty unbelievable round on a very challenging golf course. If he maintains striking it like that, Im going to have to make up for it somewhere else.
It is nice, it is always fun to watch someone stripe it. You consider a solid shot before you hit one. Typically Im the one hitting first, though, because hes so far ahead of me. It was very impressive today, minus one or two short putts which is mainly just rust. I feel like hes on his -Agame. Spieth bemoaned short and crooked play with his own driver but is still securely in touch.
Henrik Stenson showed no ill-effects from recent knee surgery in recording a 65.
Arguably the most noteworthy display on day one, though, came from the American amateur Bryson Dechambeau. The 22 -year-old from California tests the balance of his golf balls as routine in Epsom salts and, to assist with posture, has a set of irons with all rods the exact same duration. Leaving aside the lack of convention, he can clearly play a little bit too.
I never set goals, told Dechambeau after a 64. Im more of a journeyman; I like focusing on the journey process. As it relates to goals or expectations, I dont really have any. Im just focused on playing my best, the next shot and the next day.
Im a golfing scientist, in a sense, and Im trying to analyse and understand each and every aspect of the golf course and the way I played, as well. Ill analyse today and consider what I can do better at tomorrow and well go from there.
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