Completed: Albatross Golf ResortAug 21-24

Czech Masters

In Progress: Circolo Golf TorinoAug 28-31

Italia Open

Dubai Desert Classic: Opening 63 leaves Rory McIlroy two clear of field

Last Updated: 30/01/14 3:41pm

  • Share:

Rory McIlroy in the Dubai Desert Classic.

Sky Bet

Rory McIlroy lived up to his billing as pre-tournament favourite with a stunning opening round of 63 that put playing partner Tiger Woods in the shade at the Dubai Desert Classic.

McIlroy carded seven birdies and an eagle at Emirates Golf Club as he finished the day at nine-under, two clear of his closest challenger, Italy's Edoardo Molinari, and five ahead of world No 1 Woods.

The American - twice a winner of the event - completed his opening round with nine straight pars to end with four-under 68, two worse than the final member of the marquee group, defending champion Stephen Gallacher.

The Scot shared third place on six-under with South African Richard Sterne, France's Julien Quesne, Damien McGrane of Ireland and Englishman Matthew Baldwin.

But it was McIlroy who made the early headlines as he produced a flawless display to lay down an ominous marker for the rest of the field.

"I played really well from tee to green, drove the ball well again; I think I only missed a couple of fairways and only missed one green where I had to really get it up and down," stated McIlroy.

"I took advantage of how I am driving the ball and just need to do more of the same the next three days."

Birdie blitz

Starting at the tenth hole, McIlroy injected real impetus into his round with three straight birdies from the 12th before picking up further shots at 16 and 18 to reach the turn at five-under.

He continued to make inroads with a birdie at the second, before taking advantage of two superb strikes to roll home an eagle putt at the 568-yard par-five third hole.

First round leaderboard

(GB & Ire unless stated)
-9 R McIlroy
-7 E Molinari (Ita)
-6 M Baldwin
-6 S Gallacher
-6 D McGrane
-6 R Sterne (SA)
-6 J Quesne (Fra)

Click here for collated scores

His final birdie arrived at the par-three seventh hole and ensured he put clear daylight between himself and his pursuers.

Quesne had threatened to join McIlroy as he reached eight-under through 14 holes, but a double-bogey at the last ended those hopes and somewhat spoiled the Frenchman's card.

Baldwin also moved within range of the leader when a birdie at his 11th hole took him to seven-under, but the 27-year-old from Southport rather lost momentum from that point, leaving Molinari alone in second place.

Henrik Stenson endured a topsy-turvy day, fighting back from dropping three early shots to reach two-under after a total of five bogeys and seven birdies.

However, the Swede's playing partner Ernie Els struggled with his game and could do no better than a two-over 74 following three bogeys and a double.

  • Share:

Related

Dubai Desert Classic 2014

Stephen Gallacher: With Dubai Desert Classic trophy

Gallacher picks up Tour award

Stephen Gallacher has been named European Tour Golfer of the Month for January.

Rory McIlroy: Too many mistakes

McIlroy: One of those days

Rory McIlroy reflected on "one of those days" after his challenge for a second Dubai Desert Classic title petered out.

Stephen Gallacher: recovered from a nightmare start

Bright future for Gallacher

Stephen Gallacher is eyeing a Masters and Ryder Cup debut after his one-shot victory in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

Poll

Most Popular

Features

Deutsche Bank Preview

Deutsche Bank Preview

The FedEx Cup moves on to the second play-off event on Friday at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

Italian Open preview

Italian Open preview

A preview, tee-times and tips for this week's European Tour event - the Italian Open in Turin.

McGinley's dilemma

McGinley's dilemma

As the race for Ryder Cup places reaches its climax, we assess the European players vying for a wildcard.