Sports

Moment of magic spurs Rory McIlroy to a 5-under 67, right in mix at Abu Dhabi Championship

  • Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland tees off on the 14th hole during the first round of the Abu Dhabi Championship golf tournament in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Thursday Jan. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

    Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland tees off on the 14th hole during the first round of the Abu Dhabi Championship golf tournament in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Thursday Jan. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)  (The Associated Press)

  • Rickie Fowler of the U.S. tees off on the 14th hole during the first round of the Abu Dhabi Championship golf tournament in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

    Rickie Fowler of the U.S. tees off on the 14th hole during the first round of the Abu Dhabi Championship golf tournament in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)  (The Associated Press)

Rory McIlroy produced a moment of magic to spark a first-round revival at the Abu Dhabi Championship on Thursday, with a 5-under 67 leaving the world's top-ranked player two shots off the early lead.

With his ball on the lip of a fairway bunker on No. 3 — his 12th hole — McIlroy overcame an awkward stance to find the green from around 95 yards and sink a 12-foot putt.

That was the first of five birdies in McIlroy's last seven holes, leaving the Northern Irishman right in contention in his first event of 2015.

Rickie Fowler, McIlroy's playing partner, spoiled a great round by bogeying No. 18 and also shot 67.

Belgium's Thomas Pieters was leading after a 7-under 65. Brandon Grace and Gregory Bourdy were a shot behind.