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McIlroy 9 shots behind leader Colomo in Hong Kong

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McIlroy 9 shots behind leader Colomo in Hong Kong

HONG KONG (AP) Defending champion Rory McIlroy finished nine shots behind leader Javier Colomo after the first round of the Hong Kong Open on Thursday.

McIlroy admitted to feeling lethargic after shooting a 3-over 73.

Colomo, ranked 506th, recorded a career-best 64 in overcast and windy conditions on the suburban Fanling course.

That earned him a one-stroke lead over fellow Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez and Australia's Andrew Dodt.

The 48-year-old Jimenez would break his own record as oldest Hong Kong champion from 2008, and oldest ever winner on the European Tour if he were to capture the title a third time this weekend.

``I am like a good bottle of rioja because I just get better and better with age,'' Jimenez said with a smile.

Countryman Jose Maria Olazabal put himself in position to end a seven-year winless drought on the tour, playing alongside Jimenez and being among five players signing for 67s.

Olazabal also won in Hong Kong, in 2002.

McIlroy bogeyed his first hole and made his only birdie at the par-5 third hole. He dropped a shot at the sixth after being forced to play his second shot left-handed from beside a bush, and bogeyed 14 and 15.

``I just lacked a bit of energy out there, I felt a bit lethargic and mentally more than physically, if I am being honest,'' he said.

``I bogeyed the first, but then just got more frustrated as the round went on. I just felt like I was hitting some decent shots and just not really converting any chances for birdies and I just let it go a little bit.''

McIlroy believes he's just going through a comedown after securing the tour money title last weekend in Singapore.

``I suppose after last week, and winning the Race to Dubai title, it was always going to be a bit of a letdown,'' he said. ``I feel as though I am playing well enough, but I just need to get my head and the golf to match up and I'll be OK.''

Colomo found everything in synch in his Hong Kong Open debut.

He began his round on the back nine and after 10 straight pars he stormed to the top of the board with six birdies over his closing eight holes.

Colomo lost his card last year on Europe's secondary Challenge Tour and this season has been competing on the Asian Tour.

``After losing my card on the Challenge Tour, I was lucky to qualify for the Asian Tour and I'm 33rd on the rankings,'' Colomo said. ``That's perfect, because I now get to play co-sanctioned tournaments like this on the European Tour.

``So it's been a good chance for me to improve, and why not try and win a tournament and get myself onto the European Tour.''

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Bradley Beal thoroughly impressed by LeBron James after being his teammate at All-Star Game

Bradley Beal thoroughly impressed by LeBron James after being his teammate at All-Star Game

As a member of the Washington Wizards, Bradley Beal has had many battles with LeBron James over the years, first with the Miami Heat and now with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Over the weekend, Beal got to experience having James as a teammate for the first time at the All-Star Game in Los Angeles.

It was an eye-opening endeavor. Beal got to see up close and personal James' abilities and his routine to maximize them. In a group of the best players on the planet, James stood out.

"It was surreal at first, just being around all the guys," Beal said. "Even just being on his team for two days, that was an unbelievable experience."

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Beal, 24, is six seasons in to his NBA career and from experience has learned how to train for the rigors of an 82-game regular season. What James does at 33 years old to stay in peak form, however, is next level.

"To see his preparation, his focus and his mentality and what he does to take care of his body before and after games," Beal said. "That's the true testament to a Hall of Famer and one of the best to ever play the game."

James actually assisted Beal's first points in the All-Star Game, a two-handed dunk in the first quarter. James attacked the rim on a fastbreak to draw attention, then found Beal with a dump-off pass for an easy bucket.

RELATED: WIZARDS HAVE BIG QUESTIONS TO ANSWER IN SECOND HALF

It was an example of James' tricks of the trade. He is not just the most athletic player on the court, he is also the smartest when it comes to the game of basketball.

"His approach and his leadership and everything, it's top notch. It's crazy because you always play against him and to play with him, you get experience the other side of it," Beal said.

Beal, however, did note that much of what he gleaned from James was by watching him. At the end of the day, they are competitors and James isn't going to give away all of his secrets.

"He's not disclosing that information," Beal joked.

The Wizards happen to play James and the Cavs in their first game back from the All-Star break on Thursday night. Once again, Beal will be on the other side. 

RELATED: 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT HAS LOADED CLASS

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Walt Williams talks Wizards, his NBA career and life after basketball

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NBC Sports Washington

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Walt Williams talks Wizards, his NBA career and life after basketball

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chase Hughes was joined by former NBA player Walt Williams for a wide-ranging discussion. Williams talked about the Wizards, his show on NBC Sports Washington and his playing career.

Williams also projected the NBA prospects of Maryland Terrapins stars Bruno Fernando and Kevin Huerter.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!