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McIlroy recovers after slow start in Dubai; Pieters leads

Luke Walker / Getty Images Sport / Getty

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Top-ranked Rory McIlroy was mounting a recovery from a slow start to the Dubai Desert Classic when play was suspended with only 11 players managing to finish their weather-affected first rounds on Thursday.

The start of the European tour event was delayed by more than six hours after heavy overnight rain left the course unplayable at Emirates Golf Club. McIlroy got in 15 holes before the siren sounded to suspend play because of fading light.

After opening with two bogeys in his first six holes, McIlroy — playing his first event of 2023 — made three birdies in a four-hole span and was 2 under par. He had to leave the course just as he was lining up a birdie putt from inside 4 feet on No. 7, his 16th hole.

McIlroy was three shots behind Thomas Pieters, who was leading on 5 under after also playing 15 holes.

Three English players — Matthew Jordan, Daniel Gavins and Oliver Wilson — held the clubhouse lead after shooting rounds of 4-under 68. Also on that number was Tommy Fleetwood (after 15 holes), Victor Perez (16 holes) and Patrick Reed (16 holes).

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