Rory McIlroy makes positive start in Dubai

Rory McIlroy  plays a shot on the 10th hole during the round one of the Dubai Desert Classic
Rory McIlroy plays a shot on the 10th hole during the round one of the Dubai Desert Classic

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 Wiesberger made the most of calm conditions 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.

The world number one 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.

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 today, 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 of a challenging golf course. You still need to hit the shots, but it would be nice to play in some conditions that are a little different than this.”

Graeme McDowell carded a flawless bogey free five under par 67, while Damien McGrane shot a one under par 70.

Michael Hoey opened with a level par 71, Darren Clarke is a shot further back on one over par alongside Ireland’s Peter Lawrie.

Rory added; “It’s a decent score. I started pretty similar to how I started in Abu Dhabi. I didn’t hit a fairway until the 17th, which was my eighth hole, but I scored well for those holes that I didn’t hit it so well on, then hit some nice shots and made some nice birdies on the way in.

“You just try and get up the leaderboard as soon as you possibly can. It’s another good start here. I feel like I’ve started off this tournament pretty well the last few years, and it’s another good one and hopefully something to build on.”