- Created on Wednesday, 16 January 2013 22:43
It's been a couple of months since Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods played in the same tournament.
In that time, the World Nos. 1 and 2 players have become teammates at Nike.
But now a simple question remains: Is McIlroy ready to take the reins from Tiger as the game's biggest name, or is that a throne that Tiger is not ready to give up?
We'll find out starting on Wednesday night in Abu Dhabi, as the pair will tee it up in the HSBC Golf Championship alongside one another at 10:40 p.m. EST (7:40 a.m. local time).
We'll keep you updated all day long with our Tiger Tracker. You can also follow our Alistair Tait on the scene in Abu Dhabi on Twitter here.
And off we go!
• • •
No. 14, Par 4, 490 yards
Big drive allowed McIlroy to attack at No. 13, while more conservative 3-wood proved costly for Tiger.
• Off the tee: With driver, McIlroy sends his tee ball to the right and it settles in the deep rough. He was leaning as soon as he made impact. After backing off twice due to some early camera clicks, Tiger takes 3-wood despite No. 14 being the longest par 4 on the course, and is the only player in the group to hit the fairway.
• Approach shot: With fairway metal and about 250 yards to the green, Tiger hammers away and hits a big cut into the green and he'll have about 25 feet for birdie. Nice shot. McIlroy chokes up on a fairway metal out of the rough and comes up well short and in more long rough to the right of the green. He'll have to carry a bunker with his third shot.
• • •
No. 13, Par 4, 414 yards
Tiger seems to be in his own zone today, really serious about every shot and critical of himself.
• Off the tee: McIlroy hits his first fairway of the day, splitting the middle with his new red driver. Tiger goes with 3-wood and hooks it right and comes to rest at the edge of a bush. He'll have to hit out sideways. First poor shot by either player today.
• Second shot: Tiger has to hit it out left-handed and just dribble it into the sand. Did what he had to, but will still struggle to save par.
• Approach shot: Hitting his third shot, Tiger picks it cleanly and lands it nicely on the green, with about a 12-footer from behind the hole to save par. With his second shot, McIlroy will have 15 feet, but his for birdie.
• On the green: McIlroy picks up his first birdie of 2013 with a little right-to-left bender, while Tiger can't convert and he drops his first shot of the day.
ON THE DAY: Tiger (1 over), McIlroy (1 under)
• • •
No. 12, Par 3, 186 yards
From our Alistair Tait in Abu Dhabi: "The third hole was designed by Fred Flinstone. Abu Dhabi Doo!" The group only has one birdie, and that belongs to Martin Kaymer, who moved into red figures at No. 11.
• Off the tee: McIlroy's tee ball flares out to the right and finds a greenside bunker. He looks a bit puzzled, mostly due to the sun in their faces. Tiger hits a solid shot into the green, leaving himself about 25 feet for birdie.
• Around the green: McIlroy hits a beautiful sand shot to give himself an easy look at par.
• On the green: A bit of a misread for Tiger, who leaves it about 2 feet to the left of the cup. Both players make par. Tiger a bit frustrated after the last two holes, leaving a couple of birdies out there.
ON THE DAY: Tiger (Even); McIlroy (Even)
• • •
No. 11, Par 4, 417 yards
A solid opening for both, although Tiger won't want to leave 20-footers for par on this course too often.
• Off the tee: Using fairway metal, McIlroy finds a fairway bunker on the left. A little grunt at the end of that one. Tiger finds the right side of the fairway with 3-wood, cutting the dogleg on the right.
• Approach shot: McIlroy hits the green, about 20 feet to the right of the hole, having zero problems with the bunker. Tiger gets inside of McIlroy, hitting a beautiful short-iron shot to about 10 feet right of the hole. He liked it the whole way.
• On the green: Tiger wastes this chance, hitting the right lip and running out of the back of the cup. Another par. Same goes for McIlroy, who misses his longer birdie chance to the right of the hole.
ON THE DAY: Tiger (Even); McIlroy (Even)
• • •
No. 10, Par 5, 582 yards
There are about 100 spectators surrounding the tee box at No. 1, with Tiger wearing a white golf shirt peaking through the top of a blue sweater, while McIlroy has a pink shirt with a grey vest. Only a quick handshake at the back of the tee box for the duo, with Tiger looking very focused.
• Off the tee: McIlroy grits his teeth a bit after his driver, but it finds the right side of the fairway, just in front of a bunker. Tiger gives his club a twirl, but he does find that bunker. Tiger is about 20 yards past McIlroy.
• Approach shot: McIlroy comes up short in a greenside bunker, while Tiger hits iron out of the fairway bunker and finds some long rough in front of the green. Neither in ideal position at the long par 5.
• Third shot: Tiger flies the green with his third and runs off the back and down a slope into the rough. Meanwhile, McIlroy gets his third to abut 10 feet behind the cup.
• Fourth shot: Tiger tries to putt the ball with an iron, gets it up the slope, but leaves himself 20 feet to save par. A somewhat ugly way to start his round.
• On the green: But, Tiger manages to save par by making the 20-footer. McIlroy two-putts and both players open with a par.
ON THE DAY: Tiger (Even); McIlroy (Even)
• • •
Update #2: 10:33 p.m. EST
The weather should be perfect for play today, with a high at 69 degrees and a 12 mph breeze. Woods was wearing a sweater on the range, but will likely ditch that early in the round.
• • •
Update #1: 10:29 p.m. EST
One obstacle that Tiger Woods will have to deal with today is photographers taking photos in his backswing, something that he can frustrate him when he is in the U.S. With the folks in Abu Dhabi not as accustomed to shooting golf tournaments, the etiquette of not firing in a player's backswing is a bit lost.
Tiger was already visibly upset by a photographer taking photos at the top of his backswing while on the range.
• • •
• TEE TIMES: Take a look at the tee times for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship at Abu Dhabi GC which features Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer paired together for the first and second round. Pairings.
• 5 THINGS: Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy will play the first two rounds in Abu Dhabi together, starting at 10:40 p.m. EST on Wednesday night. Will Tiger make a statement, or will McIlroy pick up where he left off? Story.
• TAKING A BACKSEAT: So many players throughout Tiger Woods' career have had to answer questions about the former World No. 1, rather than about themselves. He got a taste of his own medicine on Tuesday in Abu Dhabi, as the attention was on Rory McIlroy. Story.
• 'BEST MAN FOR THE JOB:' If Colin Montgomerie was unhappy at being passed over in favor of Paul McGinley as European Ryder Cup captain, then he did a good job of hiding it. The 2010 captain said all the right things about McGinley’s selection. Story.
• RIGHT CHOICE: The European Tour picked the best man for the 2014 Ryder Cup captaincy in Paul McGinley, despite what went on behind the scenes. Commentary.
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