European Tour

Lorenzo-Vera pulls 1 shot clear of McIlroy in Dubai

Mike Lorenzo-Vera (Getty Images)
Mike Lorenzo-Vera (Getty Images)

Cape Town - 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 in Dubai.

Despite feeling 'under the weather', Lorenzo-Vera equalled his lowest round of the season to set the early pace on 9-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.

"Honestly I'm not the feeling well at all. I have no energy. I was down, I had a lung infection in South Africa and a lot of treatment, and really just feel bad on top of that," said Lorenzo-Vera.

"I'm just trying to do well in every part of the performance and sometimes it clicks and sometimes it doesn't click. I have a lot to do better to be more consistent on good weeks. That's why I think I haven't won yet. There's plenty of work to do."

Former world No 1 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 $3 million 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.

Fleetwood 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.  

First-round scores on Thursday in the $8 million DP World Tour Championship at the par-72 Earth course of Jumeirah Golf Estates:

63 - Mike Lorenzo-Vera (FRA)

64 - Rory McIlroy (NIR)

66 - Jon Rahm (ESP)

67 - Tom Lewis (ENG), Tommy Fleetwood (ENG)

68 - Rafael Cabrera-Bello (ESP), Marcus Kinhult (SWE)

69 - Justin Rose (ENG), Thomas Detry (BEL), Francesco Molinari (ITA), Danny Willett (ENG), Li Haotong (CHN), Matthias Schwab (AUT),

70 - Adri Arnaus (ESP), Thomas Pieters (BEL), Andy Sullivan (ENG), Matt Wallace (ENG), Benjamin Hebert (FRA), Louis Oosthuizen (RSA), Bernd Wiesberger (AUT)

71 - Jason Scrivener (AUS), Richard Sterne (RSA), Sergio Garcia (ESP), Christiaan Bezuidenhout (RSA), Paul Waring (ENG), Romain Langasque (FRA), Kurt Kitayama (USA), Robert MacIntyre (SCO), Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG), Erik Van Rooyen (RSA)

72 - Mikko Korhonen (FIN), David Lipsky (USA)

73 - Lee Westwood (ENG), Guido Migliozzi (ITA), Paul Casey (ENG), Tyrrell Hatton (ENG), Justin Harding (RSA), Jorge Campillo (ESP), Victor Perez (FRA), Shane Lowry (IRL)

74 - Henrik Stenson (SWE), Patrick Reed (USA), Joachim B Hansen (SWE), Jordan Smith (ENG), Joost Luiten (NED), Ian Poulter (ENG)

75 - Aaron Rai (ENG), Matthew Southgate (ENG)

76 - Scott Hend (AUS)

- European Tour

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