Rory McIlroy endures tough start at the season ending DP World Tour Championship

The 27-year-old could return to world number one with victory this weekend

Rory McIlroy

Image: Kamran Jebreili / AP/Press Association Images

Rory McIlroy's tilt at the number one spot in the world golf rankings has gotten off to a rocky start today as the 27-year-old finished three over par for the afternoon.

An opening round 75 leaves him nine strokes behind leader Lee Westwood and only for back-to-back birdies on 14 and 15, the damage could have been worse.

McIlroy carded three bogeys on the front nine, as well as a bogey and double bogey around the turn. A win this week would be unlikely to clinch him the Race to Dubai title, but would see him return to the top of the world rankings.

Lee Westwood spoke to Nick Dye after his round opening round which saw him card seven birdies and he expressed relief with his change in form.

"It's as good as I've played for quite some time," he said. "I've found a couple of keys in different parts of my game, so I've been working on them hard.

"It all came together today, a 66 is a good round of golf. It didn't seem that easy out there, some days you play this golf course and you feel like there's a lot of birdies out there. Today was a pretty stiff test. 

"You couldn't have any flaws in your game if you wanted to shoot a good score today. Every time you've played well on a golf course or you have good memories of in the past, you remember certain shots you hit and that helps with certain flags they put out.

"You get familiar with the golf course, the breeze will be blowing from a certain direction and there'll be certain spots you won't want to hit. You learn that through years of playing."

Asked whether or not last week's break had a positive impact on his game he replied: "No not really, I would have liked to have played at the Nedbank last week. I've played well there the last couple of times, I've won it and lost it in a play-off."