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'Feeling like I've got my golf game back': Rory McIlroy leads European Tour finale; Collin Morikawa 3 back

USA TODAY Sports Media Group
USA TODAY Sports Media Group
 2021-11-18
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Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy has two wins and seven top-5s in 10 appearances on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai.

Thursday’s opening round of the European Tour’s season finale was more of the same, as McIlroy fired a 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead at the DP World Tour Championship.

After his round, McIlroy talked about the comforts of playing a course he really seems to like.

“I think (I’ve got) a lot of experience around this place, a lot of great memories and memories of great shots and great putts,” he said.

He went on to express a renewed confidence in his game.

“I feel I’m a big boy now. I’ve been around the block a bit and if I have problems or struggles, I should be able to sort them out myself. Instead of looking to others to fix my problems, I’m going to take responsibility a bit and that’s what I did after the Ryder Cup.

“I maybe don’t set my standards high enough sometimes. They are high but getting into contention in one major this year isn’t good enough for me.

“I’ve done way better than that before and I know I can again, especially with how I’m playing and feeling like I’ve got my golf game back, basically. So I’m excited. … about the road ahead because I really feel like I’m on the right path.”

Joachim Hansen, Christiaan Bezuidenhout and Tapio Pulkkanen are tied for second after each shot a 67.

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Collin Morikawa of United States plays his second shot at the 18th hole during the first round of the 2021 DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images

Collin Morikawa, who was granted Honorary Life Membership on the Euro Tour earlier this week, is three shots back after a first-round 68. Morikawa is just the fifth American golfer—joining Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Patrick Reed—to receive that recognition. Morikawa is in a 10-way tie for fifth, along with Sergio Garcia among others.

Morikawa leads the Euro Tour’s Race to Dubai and seeks to become the first American winner of that award.

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