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Saturday 10 December 2016

Rory content with start as Van Zyl shines

Shane Lowry
Shane Lowry

South African Jaco van Zyl carded a remarkable 11-under-par 61 for a three-stroke lead after the first round of the Turkish Open in Antalya on yesterday.

The score, including nine birdies and an eagle, was below Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin's 62 two years ago but is not deemed a course record because of preferred lies after heavy rain.

Van Zyl, looking for his first European Tour win, is three shots in front of Lee Westwood, five clear of another Briton Chris Wood and six ahead of a group of seven including Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy (67), who leads the Race to Dubai.

Van Zyl was granted a medical exemption for this season after undergoing knee surgery in 2014.

Early

"I honestly thought four under par around here was a good score," the 36-year-old said. "I got it going early in the round and just kept it going. It was really good fun.

"I put a little bit more effort and time into it this week and I think I've found the key."

McIlroy has a lead of 271,214 points over England's Danny Willett - who carded a 69 - as he looks to win the Race to Dubai for the third time in four years, but cannot afford to relax with each of the four Final Series events worth more than 1.3million points to the winner.

The 26-year-old is playing three of the four and has targeted at least one victory to end an injury-affected season in style, his last win coming six weeks before suffering the ankle injury which ruled him out of the Scottish Open and the defence of his Open and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational titles.

After starting from the 10th, McIlroy chipped in for a birdie on the par-five 11th and then made a crucial par save after a poor drive on the 18th, turning his sand wedge around to play a left-handed pitch back on to the fairway from the base of a tree.

"I feel like my game came together a lot more on the back nine," McIlroy said. "I was trying to find my rhythm for the first few holes and made a good par save on 18 which gave me some momentum going into the back nine, so overall I'm pretty pleased.

"I had a few putts that just missed due to maybe lacking a little bit of pace, but for the most part I felt like my putting was a lot better than it has been.

"It would be nice to go to Dubai with another win under my belt, whether it's this week or in China next week. I feel like I've set myself up for a good three days to have a run at it this week."

McIlroy's playing parner, Shane Lowry, suffered a bogey-bogey finish en route to signing a first round 68 for four-under.

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