Rory McIlroy targets first Abu Dhabi Championship win

A superb round of 65 helped Rory McIlroy into third place at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this morning. Meanwhile, last season's Race to Dubai victor Tommy Fleetwood is enjoying a stellar defence of his title, skipping round in 67 strokes to leave himself lurking with menace at -15.

Fleetwood was playing alongside major winners Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson, and outscored both of them with a stellar performance.

McIlroy opened with a flawless 3-under 69 in his first tournament in three months, while Johnson posted a disappointing level-par 72.

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After his round, McIlroy told Sky Sports Golf: "I putted really well and hit the ball very well".

"I suppose ultimately it means nothing in the grand scheme of things because you can't control what other guys do, but the biggest motivation is that (Martin) Kaymer has won here three times and I've got two".

"I'm rejuvenated and refocused a little bit and I know what I want to do". But I did well.

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Fleetwood proved to be deadly accurate from tee to green, and admitted he was delighted to be so accurate so early in the season. Performing beyond his own expectations, the 2016 DP World Tour Championship victor was clearly buoyant after coming off the 18th green, where he said that anything is possible in Sunday's finale: "When it's your day, it's your day", Fitzpatrick grinned. "We hit driver wherever we can and the rest of it is good ball-striking and going at a couple flags with wedges when you have them".

"It's probably better, in fact, to go somewhere else to try and get rid of the rust". I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player. "I'm really looking forward to tomorrow". "There were no mistakes, I played very solidly, very smart". With the way he's been playing this week, though, it would take a fearless man to bet against him going one better and starting his 2018 season with a bang. He sends a message about his readiness to reassert himself as the game's best player in a world suddenly teeming with towering young talent.

But the 38-year-old slipped back late in his round, back-to-back bogeys on the 16th and 17th holes leaving him on two under.

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"It's a tough course here", said Tanihara, who finished an impressive 27th on the Race to Dubai during his maiden campaign last season.