Rory McIlroy made a storming start to the Dubai Desert Classic on Thursday, bagging eight birdies en route to a seven under 65 and a two stroke first round lead in the European Tour event.
Tiger Woods, meanwhile, came off a distinct third best to Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer as the world’s top three golfers shared each other’s company, carding a 71, two strokes more than his two rivals.
Sergio Garcia continued his revival with a 67 to share second place with Thomas Aiken of South Africa followed by six players tied for third on four under.
The 21-year-old McIlroy has made an impressive start to the season with top 10 finishes in his last four events, but he is desperate to secure another win to go with his breakthrough triumph here two years ago.
In perfect playing conditions at the Emirates Golf Club’s Majlis Course, McIlroy, starting at the 10th, went out in four under 33 with birdies at 13, 15, 17 and 18.