McIlroy (65) one back in Abu Dhabi through 54

Casey is back on the European Tour after a three-year absence

But 13-year-old Oscar Murphy not only had the chance to rub elbows with his hero, Rory McIlroy, during the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, he actually beat the top-ranked golfer in the world (DJ) and the 18-hole leader of the event (Fleetwood) in a closest-to-the-pin contest.

In front of millions on live TV and packed 15th hole at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Murphy rose to the occasion to hit a handsome 3-wood tee-shot on the 177-yard par-3 - hitting it well inside the golfing superstars of Fleetwood and Johnson. I felt like I played solid.

The birthday boy holed a birdie for good measure - agonisingly missing out on an eagle - as he shot a four under par 68 to sit nicely poised in a share of third at Abu Dhabi Golf Club alongside compatriot Ross Fisher and France's Alexander Levy, on -10 under.

"Winning would mean a lot".

On playing alongside Johnson and McIlroy, Fleetwood added: "I think during my career, I think I'm going to struggle to find a better three ball, really".

"If someone had said to me at the start of the week, you can go off in the last couple of groups and have a chance going into Sunday, I'd have said "I'd love to do that".




"I think I finished the season with ten straight top-10s, and that's not been done by me and probably not been done by many", said the reigning Olympic champion. Short game was needed at times.

'Every round I play here I feel like he's my little mascot. He pulled 2-iron. With the wind helping off the left, McIlroy hit a high left-to-right cut that landed 30 feet past the flag.

But he somehow dropped nearly an equal number of shots during the course of play, with four bogeys recorded to sign off at two-under 70 for an overall par-5, seven shots behind leader Thomas Pieters.

It's the type of shot we could see more from McIlroy as he tries to add variety to his game. "When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss". "You want to have a bit of nerves and feel like you're in contention, and I look forward to tomorrow". I've never won my first start back out. 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.

After calming down Murphy was relaxed and focused before his big moment but suddenly felt his legs go beneath him when he got the tee and realized he'd practiced the wrong distance.

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