DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Rory McIlroy had five consecutive birdies in one stretch Thursday and has the lead after one round of the European Tour's Dubai Desert Classic.
McIlroy finished with eight birdies and one bogey for a 7-under-par 65. He is two shots clear of Thomas Aiken and Sergio Garcia, who each shot bogey-free 5-under 67s. Six golfers are tied for fourth at 4-under.
The field in Dubai is packed with golf's biggest names. World No. 1 Lee Westwood and No. 2-ranked Martin Kaymer are in a nine-player group tied for 10th at 3-under. Tiger Woods, ranked third in the world, is six strokes behind McIlroy. Only an 18th-hole eagle allowed Woods to break par on the day.
McIlroy, No. 7 in the rankings, played the back side of the Emirates Golf Club first Thursday and was 2-under after seven holes. But on No. 17 he started a string of five birdies that drove him up the leader board. His bogey came at the seventh hole but be got back to 7-under with a birdie at No. 8.