McIlroy breezes into contention in Dubai

ON COURSE: Rory McIlroy tees off  Dubai Desert Classic. Picture: AP/Kamran Jebreili

ON COURSE: Rory McIlroy tees off Dubai Desert Classic. Picture: AP/Kamran Jebreili

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Rory McIlroy confessed the conditions were almost too easy as he joined a host of players in cashing in on a low-scoring first day of the Dubai Desert Classic.

Bernd Weisberger made the most of lower than predicted winds to fire a flawless 64 and take a one-shot lead into the second round, with 18 players within three shots of the Austrian.

One of those is McIlroy, whose 66 was enough to leave him six under, two off the lead, as he chases victory after finishing second in his last three events.

The world No 1 was returning to the scene of his first professional win six years ago, where he has secured four consecutive top-10 finishes, and showed why he is so fond of the Emirates Golf Club with seven birdies and just a single bogey on the ninth.

The wind normally poses some challenge in Dubai but still conditions led to low scoring and McIlroy, who started on the 10th, admitted he would have liked more of a test.

“I’d be disappointed if I didn’t shoot anything below 68, especially with the conditions and 66 is a nice start,” he said.

“I’d like to see it blow a little bit and make it more challenging. You still need to hit the shots, but it would be nice to play in some conditions that are a little different than this.

“It was a little disappointing to bogey the last but the golf I played up until then was nice.

“It’s a solid start. I felt like I hit the ball very well for the most part and gave myself plenty of birdie chances and was able to covert a few more of them than I was doing in Abu Dhabi a couple of weeks ago.”

Wiesberger came alive on the back nine after reaching the turn in 33, picking up a shot on 10 and then registering five consecutive birdies from 13 to set the target.

Two-time defending champion Stephen Gallacher was alongside McIlroy on six under with the Ryder Cup duo being joined by Marc Warren, Maximilian Kieffer, Anders Hansen, Seve Benson and Hennie Otto.

Graeme McDowell finished birdie-birdie to join the group on five under which included Kaymer, Race to Dubai leader Danny Willett and Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo, who went out in 37 but came back in 30 as he birdied his last seven holes.

Willett’s fellow Yorkshiremen Simon Dyson, Matt Fitzpatrick and Richard Finch shot 71, 73 and 74, respectively.

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