Nov 21, 2019: France’s Mike Lorenzo-Vera finished with four consecutive birdies in an opening round of 63 to take a one shot lead over four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy in the European Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
Despite feeling ‘under the weather’, Lorenzo-Vera equalled his lowest round of the season to set the early pace on nine under par in the final Rolex Series event of 2019 and even held a three-shot advantage at one point until McIlroy produced his own spectacular finish.
Former World Number One McIlroy birdied the 15th and 16th holes then executed his ‘best shot of the year’ on the last, a majestic three wood from 290 yards which finished five feet from the pin, en route to a closing eagle. The Northern Irishman, who also posted five birdies on the front nine, carded an eight under par 64 as he chases back-to-back European Tour victories following his win in the WGC-HSBC Champions three weeks ago.
Both players will have their eyes on the title and the $3million winner’s cheque – the richest first prize in tournament golf – while Jon Rahm has that and the Race to Dubai title in his sights after opening with a six under par 66. The Spaniard is currently third in the tournament and third in the Race to Dubai, and he bolstered his chances of overhauling Bernd Wiesberger in the contest to become European’s Number One with four birdies on the back nine.
England’s Tommy Fleetwood also put the pressure on Race to Dubai leader Wiesberger – his playing partner in the opening round – by holing his second shot on the first hole for an eagle and birdieing the second. The Ryder Cup player eventually signed for a five under par round of 67 to sit four shots back in a share of fourth place with compatriot Tom Lewis.
Wiesberger is a further three shots adrift but the Austrian, who was one over par after his third bogey of the day on the tenth hole, was rightly pleased with his back nine after birdies on the 11th, 13th and 18th holes moved him back into the red on two under par and into a share of 14th position.