Thursday, 04 February 2016
Danny Willett  (European Tour)
Danny Willett (European Tour)

They say that everyone needs a little luck sometimes and that old adage again proved true on Thursday at Emirates Golf Club, where Rory McIlroy and Danny Willett bagged a couple of remarkable birdies on the first day of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

For World Number Two McIlroy, his moment of great fortune arrived on the 18th hole. Having started on the tenth, the defending champion was one under for the day as he hit the iconic par five.

The Northern Irishman’s driver came straight out of the middle – 329 yards out of the middle to be precise – and bounded straight through the right-to-left dogleg and into the lake.

Cue a penalty drop, a 198-yard mid-iron to 12 feet and a highly unorthodox birdie. So that was a four, on a par five, in three shots. Got it?

It came out way too hot so it was a bonus definitely!
Rory McIlroy

“I hit a lot of nice shots out there and the drive at 18 was actually still one of them,” said McIlroy, who eventually finished with a four under par 68. “I had an idea it was going to go in the water because it came off way too hot for my liking! But I stayed positive because I hit a great tee shot.

“So when I got to the ball I actually said to my caddie, JP, before I hit my third shot, ‘It would be great to make birdie here’ and I was able to do that which was a bonus definitely!”

Willett’s moment of luck, meanwhile, was perhaps an even bigger break than McIlroy’s.

The Englishman, attempting an aggressive second shot into the par five 13th, pushed his approach right and straight towards the drink.

Already glancing up at the heavens in exasperation, the three-time European Tour winner looked back in astonishment as, unbelievably, the ball proceeded to bounce in the water and cannon straight back out onto dry land.

To cap it all off, Willett duly chipped up to a foot and knocked it in for yet another unusual birdie. Balls can walk on water?!

I said, 'That's what clean living does for you!'
Danny Willett 

“I had 255 yards and was hitting five wood - it usually draws but this time it didn't!" said Willett, who finished with a two under par 70 on Thursday. "I started it at the right hand side of the green trying to bring it in but the wind caught it out of the left. I thought it was gone, to be honest, so I was pleasantly surprised when it pitched and bounced back on. When I got up there, it was certainly the better side to be on!

"And then, to boot, nearly chipped in for eagle! I found a little scuff on the ball afterwards so it must have hit a rock or something down there.

"I said, 'That's what clean living does for you!'"

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1WILLETT, DannyENG18-19
T2SULLIVAN, AndyENG18-18
T2CABRERA-BELLO, RafaESP18-18
T4QUIROS, AlvaroESP18-16
T4AN, Byeong HunKOR18-16
T6MCILROY, RoryNIR18-15

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