McIlroy kept his composure after dropping a shot at the 13th in Dubai
Northern Ireland teenager Rory McIlroy shot an eight-under par 64 to lead the Dubai Desert Classic before bad light brought a premature end to round one.
The 19-year-old sank nine birdies to lead by one shot from Sweden's Robert Karlsson who carded a bogey-free 65.
South Africa's Charl Schwartzel, who is on six under after 14 holes, is among 59 players who will complete their first rounds early on Friday morning.
English trio Paul Casey, Graeme Storm and Justin Rose shot four under 68s.
And Casey, winner of the recent Abu Dhabi Championship, was full of praise for McIlroy's round.
He said: "I made a couple of good par saves coming in, but I am four behind Rory. That's a hell of a round, eight under around here is very impressive."
McIlroy, who is already being touted as a potential player for next year's Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor by new European captain Colin Montgomerie, took full advantage of the benign conditions.
"The conditions were perfect, the greens were soft, the fairways were soft. It was ideal scoring conditions," he said.
McIlroy, who started his round on the 10th, dropped his only shot at the par five 13th when he drove into a bush, but he finished his round in style with a 15-foot birdie putt at the 9th, his last hole.
"It was actually nice to be out late because I wanted to do a little work on my putting before I went out. I was able to do that and holed a few nice ones," he added.