With Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods struggling, fifth-ranked Justin Rose and Jamie Donaldson had 5-under 67s Thursday for a one-shot lead after the opening round of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship in the United Arab Emirates.
McIlroy, playing with new clubs following his multimillion dollar sponsorship deal with Nike, finished with a 75 and risks missing the cut. Woods shot an even-par 72.
Thorbjorn Olesen of Denmark and Pablo Larrazabal of Spain finished one stroke behind the leaders.
McIllroy repeatedly missed fairways, including a shot on his 12th that hit a tree and ended up in a parking lot, leading to one of his two double bogeys. His other came when he muffed a chip in thick rough on his par-3 sixth. He also putted poorly, missing a par putt on his 17th and a birdie putt on the 18th.
The top-ranked McIlroy insisted his difficulties had more to do with rusty strokes than the new equipment that he hyped only a few days ago. While he repeatedly slumped after a bad shot or frowned following a missed putt, the 2012 European Tour and PGA Tour money winner seemed resigned to adjusting to the new Nike clubs.
‘‘When you go out and you’ve got new stuff, you are going to be a little anxious and hopefully you play well,’’ McIlroy said. ‘‘But I guess I can learn from it and move on and go into tomorrow and try and play a bit better. It’s about playing yourself into the weekend.’’
Woods, who was paired with McIlroy, finished a roller coaster round at par after ‘‘grinding it out.’’ The 14-time major winner had four birdies and four bogeys and ended his round by three-putting his 18th for a bogey when he hit the second putt too hard.
‘‘I’m still right there,’’ said the second-ranked Woods, who was five shots behind the leaders. ‘‘You know, if I two-putt that last hole I’m in I think 12th or 13th or something like that. There’s not a lot of guys going low out there. These fairways are tiny to begin with, but there are a lot of crosswinds.’’
PGA — Phil Mickelson opened his season with an eventful even-par 72 in the Humana Challenge in La Quinta, Calif., leaving him nine strokes behind the first-round leaders.
Recovering from flu-like symptoms, the 42-year-old Mickelson had three birdies, a bogey and a double bogey at La Quinta CC — one of three courses used in the pro-am event that he won in 2002 and 2004.
Jason Kokrak, Roberto Castro, and James Hahn topped the leaderboard at 9-under 63.
Russell Henley, the Sony Open winner Sunday in Hawaii in his first start as a PGA Tour member, had a 64 on the Nicklaus course.
‘‘It was a perfect day,’’ Henley said. ‘‘The weather is perfect. The greens were true. So, it’s just trying to stay patient and let the birdies come to me.’’
Mickelson made his first start since tying for second in early November in the HSBC Champions in China, the only event he played after the Ryder Cup.