RORY MCILROY IS on the march.
The Holywood man had seven birdies in his last 10 holes to finish the opening round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic within touching distance of the top of the leaderboard.
McIlroy is now just three strokes behind Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello, who carded a 63.
“I was pretty slow starting off and after my best shot of the day on the seventh three-putted from four feet,” the US Open champion told Sky Sports afterwards.
“I just needed to get something to happen, made a nice birdie on nine and went on a run from there. Seeing nine under on the leaderboard early is tough – you think you should be doing better.”
Cabrera-Bello told European Tour Radio: “Just for a second after the birdie on number two (his 11th hole) I tried to do the maths on what I needed for 59.
“Then I told myself to stop being foolish and don’t be too greedy. Nothing wrong happened – there were some tough holes to come and I didn’t drop a stroke.
“It’s a really, really good score, but in itself it means nothing. If you want to stay grounded you think of how many leaders of the first round win the tournament. Not that many.”
Lee Westwood had a 69, Paul Lawrie – who won last week – a 71 after closing with a double bogey on the ninth and Abu Dhabi champion Robert Rock a disappointing 73.