Rory McIlroy gets his toes wet but Sergio Garcia on the charge at DP World Tour Championship

Rory McIlroy stumbles to three-over par, tied for 55th, with just three players in the field worse off, while Spaniard Sergio Garcia sits pretty in fourth on four-under 68 despite finding the water himself at the 16th. Paul Radley reports from Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland puts his shoes back on after playing his fourth shot on the 16th hole during Day 1 of the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates on November 17, 2016 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Francois Nel / Getty Images
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DUBAI // The fact there is no halfway cut in the DP World Tour Championship has spared the blushes of many a star in the seven years the tournament has been played.

The European Tour’s top 60 players are here for the duration – whether they like it or not.

Seldom has Rory McIlroy required such a safety net. No one else has been more successful around the Earth Course than the two-time winner from Northern Ireland.

And yet the world No 2 gave the impression in Round 1 that he might not, in actual fact, mind having the weekend off.

See also:

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• Facts and figures: Behind the Race to Dubai season-finale

For much of it, he looked as though he would have happily been anywhere other than on the golf course. He ended it on three-over par, tied for 55th, with just three players in the field worse off.

McIlroy’s faltering round of 75 reached its nadir when he hit his half-submerged ball from the water protecting the front of the 16th green.

On his first attempt he moved the ball two inches forward, meaning he had to remove his right shoe and sock and stand in the water for his next effort. In the end, it cost him six.

The treacherous par-4 has provided a watery grave for many hopes down the years. Barely an hour earlier, Sergio Garcia had been on the charge at the top of the leaderboard, only to similarly post a double-bogey at No 16.

“It is a shame,” said Garcia, who signed for a four-under 68, giving him a share of fourth place at the end of Round 1.

“I just overhit my second shot a little bit, and it still looked like it was going to hold on. Unfortunately it went in the water.

“Other than that, I felt like I played really nicely all day.”

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