SEOUL: Former world number one Rory McIlroy rallied for a sub-par 70 after a difficult start at the Kolon Korea Open on Thursday (Friday in Manila) to sit in a disappointing tie for 12th.
The two-time major winner is the star attraction at the Woo Jeong Hills Country Club where the $1 million One Asia Tour event is the Northern Irishman’s first taste of competitive golf after a month-long break.
McIlroy, who lies in lowly 60th position on the European Tour standings, was two-over par with five holes to play before bouncing back with three birdies to complete a first-round score of one-under.
The 24-year-old world number six exchanged a bogey with a birdie on the front nine before coming away with a double bogey on the par-3 13th after finding water off the tee.
The 2011 US Open champion and 2012 PGA winner is in a seven-way tie, three shots off the leader—South Korean veteran Jang Ik-Jae.
Jang fired the only bogey-free round of the day to shoot a 67 and holds a one-stroke lead going into Friday’s second round.
It included a spectacular eagle on the par-4 10th, when he found the bottom of the cup with a 9-iron from 155 metres (170 yards) away.
Jang led the 2005 Korea Open through three rounds but shot a 76 on the final day to drop to a tie for 14th.
A two-time winner on the Japan Golf Tour, Jang is seeking his first victory on native soil since 2005.