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Page last updated at 14:58 GMT, Thursday, 29 January 2009

McIlroy leads in Dubai after 64

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy is currently 39th in the world golf rankings

Rory McIlroy leads the field at the Dubai Desert Classic after firing an eight-under-par opening 64 on a fog-affected opening day.

The 19-year-old bagged nine birdies which left him a shot ahead of Robert Karlsson who had also completed his round at the Emirates Club.

Graeme McDowell fired a 70 after finishing with a double-bogey while Gareth Maybin is two under after 14.

After being three under after five, Darren Clarke slumped to a 74.

Clarke started with an opening bogey at the 10th before two birdies and an eagle saw him improving to three under.

However, bogeys at the 16th and 17th were then followed by a double-bogey at the second and further concessions at the fourth and seventh, before a closing birdie.

McDowell carded three birdies in his first nine holes, then registered two more birdies on his second nine, before marring his round with a bogey and double-bogey.

Peter Lawrie and Damien McGrane both posted scores of 73 while Gary Murphy is two further shots off the pace.

Paul McGinley was one over after nine when the opening day concluded.

Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano is in third place after a six-under 66 while South African Charl Schwartzel is on the same mark after 14 holes.

After his round McIlroy said conditions were "perfect, ideal for scoring".

"The greens were soft, the fairways were soft and I holed a few nice ones out there.

"I played really nicely, it was a great day," he added.

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