Rory Starts out Hot in Dubai

Rory McIlroy opened with a 9-under 63 to take the opening-round lead in the Dubai Desert Classic. The European Tour event started Thursday at Emirates Golf Club.

The 24-year-old Northern Irishman carded seven birdies and an eagle for a two-stroke lead over Italy's Edoardo Molinari and three better than France's Julien Quesne, South Africa's Richard Sterne, Ireland's Damien McGrane, England's Matthew Baldwin and Scotland's Stephen Gallacher.

Gallacher was in McIlroy's group with Tiger Woods. The Scot described the Ulsterman's play as "sublime." Woods opened with a 68.

"We all played well," said McIlroy, who will be in the same group for the second round. "Tiger took a little time to get going, but he managed his game really well the first nine holes and started hitting the ball better on the back."

Woods opened with nine pars before getting going on the home half with four birdies. "I'm going to work on a couple of things here and there, but I feel like it was a good day," he said.

"I could have got a couple more out of it, just by making a couple of putts from about 10 feet or so. I hit a lot of good putts, which was nice. Last week I didn't do it. It was nice to actually play well again . . . Overall, it was a pretty good score."

McIlroy, who has never finished out of the top-10 in the tournament, was very pleased with the day. "It's definitely the lowest round I've shot in a while. The way I controlled my ball and the way I played, it's definitely up there."

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