Rolex Series

Day one digest: 2021 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Everything you need to know from the first day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Rory McIlroy

After morning fog had made us wait a further three hours for the start of the 2021 Race to Dubai campaign, Rory McIlroy propelled himself to the top of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship leaderboard with an opening 64.

Thursday's afternoon starters will resume their first rounds on Friday morning after running out of daylight as a result of the earlier delay.

Here is everything you need to know from the first day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

Hatton lands two eagles

Tyrrell Hatton made the perfect start to the 2021 campaign by carding an eagle at his first hole of the year. After lifting his approach into the par five tenth to five feet, the Englishman made no mistake with the putt to jump to two under par at the earliest opportunity. He followed that up with yet another eagle on the 18th - this time almost securing a rare albatross as his approach finished up around two feet from the hole. Hatton would go on to end the day on seven under, a solitary shot behind early clubhouse leader McIlroy. Speaking about his first eagle of the day, Hatton said: "It's not often you're hitting three wood to five feet - a nice one to start the day."

Morning fog delays the start of the season

All tee times were pushed back two hours and 55 minutes on day one as heavy fog delayed the start of the tournament. Here's what the players were dealing with on the putting green and range on Thursday morning...

McIlroy's sensational start

It's no secret that four time Major Champion McIlroy often plays well at the very beginning of a calendar year, but he took that to the next level on Thursday as he made eight birdies and created countless chances to go even lower. His bogey free 64 - in which he made four birdies and no bogeys on both nines and took advantage of every single one of the course's four par fives - handed him a one shot lead at the end of the first day. It was also his lowest ever score at this event, beating his previous best of 65.

No putter required for Wallace 

Matt Wallace holed his second shot for an eagle at the first - the shortest par four on the course - but he didn't realise to begin with. After achieving the feat at his tenth hole of the day, Wallace reached straight for the putter before being informed he had no need for it.

Golf for Good returns

The start of the 2021 Race to Dubai campaign sees the return of the European Tour's Golf for Good initiative, which raised so much money for good causes after it was launched to coincide with the Tour’s return to action last July. As part of the 2021 Golf for Good campaign, a new fundraising drive called ‘Every Birdie Counts’ begins this week and will run through the season. It will ensure that for every birdie made this season on the European Tour, a minimum of €1 will be donated to charity. The minimum donations for every event will increase to €10 for eagles, while albatrosses will result in a minimum €1,000 donation. To celebrate the launch of the Golf for Good Every Birdie Counts campaign, this week's tournament will receive a significant Birdie Boost – with every birdie counting for €10 and every eagle counting for €100.

Every Birdie Counts

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