Rory McIlroy one shot off early lead at DP World Tour Championship

Rory McIlroy made a strong start to his bid for a season-ending victory to get within a shot of the early lead at the DP World Tour Championship.

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McIlroy birdied five of his opening seven holes and followed back-to-back gains at the 16th with an eagle at the par-five last on his way to an opening-round 64 at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

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The world No 2’s start was his lowest round on the Earth Course and jumped him to second, as Mike Lorenzo-Vera birdied his final four holes to close a nine-under 63 and grab the early advantage.

Jon Rahm, one of five players who can week the Race to Dubai, sits in third after a bogey-free 66, while Tommy Fleetwood shares fourth spot and is four off the pace alongside Tom Lewis.

After lipping out from 40 feet at the first, McIlroy followed a two-putt birdie at the second with a six-foot gain at the third before catching the edge of the cup with another long-range effort at the fourth.

McIlroy went on a run of three consecutive birdies from the fifth and saw a 15-footer at the ninth horseshoe out on his way to turning in 31, before failing to get up and down from a bunker to save par at the 12th and almost chipping into the water on his way to a par at the long 14th.

The Northern Irishman bounced back to make a tap-in gain at the 15th and pick up another shot at the par-four next to get within three of the lead, before striking a stunning 3-wood into the par-five last to set up a six-foot eagle.

Rahm posted six birdies during his opening round but failed to make any further inroads during the final three holes, while Fleetwood held a share of second until a penultimate-hole bogey saw him drop back to five under.

Fleetwood, second in the season-long standings after winning the Nedbank Golf Challenge last week, holed out for eagle at the par-four first and was six under after 10 holes, only to bogey the 12th and cancel out a close-range birdie at the 15th by hitting his tee shot at the par-three 17th into a bunker.

Rafa Cabrera Bello and Marcus Kinhult share sixth spot on four under, while defending Race to Dubai champion Francesco Molinari sits in the group on three under that also includes Justin Rose and last year’s tournament winner Danny Willett.

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