Rolex Series

Westwood enjoys seeing Thomas and McIlroy in action

Lee Westwood launched the defence of his Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship title in the company of big hitting duo Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy on Thursday, and he had fun watching them at close quarters.

Lee Westwood

Westwood's Ryder Cup team-mate McIlroy put on quite a show on the opening day of the 2021 Race to Dubai season, shrugging off a fog delay of almost three hours to produce a spotless 64 which consisted of four birdies on both nines.

That saw the Northern Irishman lead the way by a single shot at the end of the first day, with all of the afternoon starters set to complete their rounds on Friday morning after running out of daylight.

Westwood, fresh from winning the 2020 Race to Dubai last month, posted a three under par 69 that contained some delightful approach shots, while World Number Three Thomas signed for an opening 73.

The 47-year-old Englishman said he enjoyed watching his playing partners in action, even if they did leave him behind at times.

He said: "I played behind them. I wasn't playing with them most of the day. What a shock that is.

Thomas, Westwood and McIlroy

"I kept hitting it 215 and 220 and that's not long enough for these lads. These lads are getting out 240, 250. 

"They are nice to watch. Not only do they hit it a long way but they hit it a long way straight. There should be an advantage to that. 

"They are both great drivers of the golf ball and fun to watch."

Speaking about his own round, Westwood added: "It was solid stuff. I hit the ball quite nicely. I'm pleased with it. 

"I rolled the ball well on the greens and was a bit unlucky on the greens I thought. I hit a lot of good putts that didn't go in. 

"Played the par fives - one over for the par fives, you're really looking for two or three under on those the way they are scoring. So 69 is a good start."

Read next