Larrazabal seizes early initiative

1/17/2013 7:17:00 AM
Pablo Larrazabal   (Getty Images)
Pablo Larrazabal (Getty Images)

Pablo Larrazábal began the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in fine form to snatch an early lead as World Numbers One and Two Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods made indifferent starts to their 2013 campaigns.

Spaniard Larrazábal turned in an outstanding 32 and then knocked in a five footer at the first – his tenth – to reach five under par.

That was two clear of 2011 Walker Cup star Andy Sullivan, Welshman Jamie Donaldson and last season’s four-time winner Branden Grace.

However McIlroy and Woods – now Nike stablemates as well as the top two in the Official World Golf Ranking – were nowhere to be seen on the leaderboard.

It was 14-Major winner Woods who made the better start, three birdies in four holes from 15th seeing him turn two under.

But that was followed by a smothered drive at the first that barely made it past the ladies’ tee, and consecutive bogeys sent him back to level par.

That was still two better than McIlroy who, after finishing last year with five straight birdies and a win, had two double bogeys in his first 12 holes of the season.

The 23 year old sprayed a tee shot on the short 13th - his fourth hole - and then drove out of bounds on the 439 yard third.

There was also a birdie at the 414 yard 13th and long second, but he had to be content with a par five on the reachable 18th after badly pulling a fairway wood so wide it finished behind one of the greenside hospitality units.

At least his girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki had a good day, though. 

She started her second round match at the Australian Open tennis just after he teed off and beat Croatian Donna Vekic 6-1 6-4 long before his work was done.

The third member of the group, three-time Abu Dhabi winner Martin Kaymer, was going best of the trio on one under despite driving into water at the first.

McIlroy had more trouble at the long eighth, going from rough into a bunker and not making the green for three.

A bogey six dropped him to three over and he was eight adrift of Larrazábal.