Woods starts cold in the desert

Tiger Woods of the U.S. swings his club as he reacts on the eighth tee during the first round of...

Tiger Woods of the U.S. swings his club as he reacts on the eighth tee during the first round of the Dubai Desert Classic, February 10, 2011. (REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah)

REUTERS

, Last Updated: 9:34 AM ET

Former winner Rory McIlroy shot a sizzling seven-under-par 65 to take an early first-round lead at the Dubai Desert Classic on Thursday as Tiger Woods started with a bogey.

McIlroy, winless on the European Tour since his triumph here in 2009, recorded eight birdies in his round for a two-stroke lead over Spain's Sergio Garcia, without a win since the 2008 HSBC Champions that lifted him to world number two.

The day's later starters included the group of twice champion Woods, world number one Lee Westwood and number two Martin Kaymer, the first time in 17 years that the world's top three golfers have competed in a regular European Tour event.

"It's a great way to start the tournament and I just felt in control of the ball," the 21-year-old McIlroy told reporters.

"I played really well and played smart golf, and took on the pins when I needed to."

The world number seven capped his round with five birdies in succession from the 17th hole having started at the 10th.

Garcia produced his equal best score in nine rounds of competition this season with a five-under 67, the 31-year old not dropping a shot to end his round one ahead of Britons Danny Willett and Steve Webster and Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Gonnet.

Former winner David Howell recorded a hole-in-one when the Briton landed a 175-yard six iron in the cup at the par three seventh hole en route to a one-under par round of 71.

Defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez double-bogeyed two of his closing four holes for a 72.


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