McIlroy drops a double bogey but shares lead with Ancer and Berger at Hero World Challenge

V Krishnaswamy | | Updated on: Dec 03, 2021
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Leader board tightly bunched up with a dozen players within three shots of each other

Rory McIlroy continued his rich vein of form and brought home his 10th score in the sixties in the last 13 rounds as he grabbed a share of the lead in the opening round of the Hero World Challenge. McIlroy shot 66 and shared the leader with Daniel Berger and Mexico’s Abraham Ancer.

The leader board is tightly bunched up with a dozen players within three shots of each other and all the names are marquee ones, capable of winning in the face of the strongest competitions. This week there are only 20 players in all, but they are among the very best in the game currently.

Chasing McIlroy, Berger and Ancer are some of the biggest names in the world of golf. Right on their heels at 67 are Brooks Koepka, Webb Simpson and Justin Thomas, who is back from a Lasik surgery, while another shot behind are Collin Morikawa, who got engaged earlier this week in the Bahamas, and his close friend, Viktor Hovland. The two youngsters are joined by Patrick Reed and Tony Finau at 68. One behind them are Bryson DeChambeau and Tyrrell Hatton with 69 each.

A good low score, always a strong possibility on this golf course in the Albany, could bring some of the lower placed players, including Scottie Scheffler – who has 59 to his credit - into contention.

McIlroy’s 66 was not picture perfect but good enough to have a share of the lead. On the par-59th, McIlroy hit his second shot into the water. He also failed to birdie two other par 5s – all missed opportunities. That he still came back with 66 is indicative of the quality of golf he is playing.

It showed what McIlroy’s has been saying of late that he is playing some of his best golf since Europe’s disastrous showing at the Ryder Cup, which left him in tears.

McIlroy had three great rounds at the Tour Championship, but ended 14th and then followed that up with a win at CJ Cup, where he held off fast-charging Collin Morikawa, who shot 62 but was second. Then at the DP World Tour Championship, he seemed to be in control for 68 holes, before slipping down the ladder and finishing sixth. At both the Tour Championship and the DP World Tour Championship, he was let down by 74s – in the third round at Atlanta and in the final round in Dubai. Now he is on top of the scoring charts once again.

After the first round he said, “I wish it was a different time of the year, the way I’m playing.” Then quickly added, “But there’s no reason why I can’t pick up again in January and keep playing the way I’m playing. I’m still going to keep myself ticking over these next few weeks. I’m not going to completely shut the clubs away. My game’s in good shape and I want to keep it there.”

He added, “The three starts since the Ryder Cup have been really good, I've shot some good, low scores," he said. "Yeah, the game's feeling a lot better and it's just another ... chance to get into contention and feel that, you know, whatever it is you feel on Sunday, when you're trying to win a golf tournament."

Ancer, the young Mexican, who grew up in the US, was runner-up four times – once behind McIlroy at Wells Fargo this May – before finding his maiden PGA Tour title. He won the WGC – FedEx St Jude Invitational in August, edging out Hideki Matsuyama and Sam Burns in a play-off. After two birdies and a bogey on the front nine, Ancer lit up the back nine with five birdies between 10th and 16th.

Berger, making his first start since the Ryder Cup, showed no rust. He was actually in the lead at 7-under, but gave away a shot with a bogey on 18th. Later Justin Thomas, 7-under after 16 with a hat-trick of birdies from 14th to 16th, went into the water and gave away a double bogey.

Justin Thomas was leading at 7-under, but he double bogeyed the last to fall to Tied-4th.

The live telecast of the event brought to you by Hero MotoCorp, can be

seen on Eurosport India. The timings are:

Round 2: Dec 3/4: 12 (midnight) to 3 am;

Round 3: Dec 4/5: 10.30 pm to 3 am

Round 4: Dec 5/6: 10 pm to 3 am

The Scores:

Round 1 at the Hero World Challenge at the Albany, Bahamas:

66 (-6): Rory McIlroy, Daniel Berger and Abraham Ancer

67 (-5): Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Webb Simpson

68 (-4): Collin Morikawa, Patrick Reed, Viktor Hovland and Tony Finau

69 (-3): Bryson DeChambeau and Tyrrell Hatton

70 (-2): Xander Schauffele

71 (-1): Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Sam Burns, Scottie Scheffler and Matthew Fitzpatrick

72 (Ev): Henrik Stenson

75 (+3): Harris English

Published on December 03, 2021

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