FIRST ROUND LEADERBOARD:
-7 R Allenby (Aus) -6 C Villegas (Col), L Westwood (Eng), C Wood (Eng) -4 T Aiken (SA), P Harrington (Ire), L Wenchong (Chi), R McIlroy (NI), A Scott (Aus)
Selected others: -1 M Kaymer (Ger), S Garcia (Spa), I Poulter (Eng), G Maybin -1 +1 R Fisher (Eng)
Westwood (left) and McIlroy are battling it out for top spot in Europe
Lee Westwood carded a six under par 66 to lead Race to Dubai rival Rory McIlroy after the opening round of the Dubai World Championship.
McIlroy, who heads the European money list, made five birdies and a bogey to record a four under par 68.
But his closest rival Westwood went two better, firing five birdies on the back nine to finish one shot off first-round leader Robert Allenby on seven under.
Camilo Villegas and Chris Wood joined Westwood in the clubhouse on six under.
McIlroy, Westwood, Martin Kaymer and Ross Fisher are all battling it out to top the European money list.
Kaymer lies one under and Fisher one over after Thursday's round.
McIlroy is £115,000 ahead of Westwood going into the final event, thanks to the young Northern Irishman's runner-up finish at the Hong Kong Open last week.
I think it will be a great honour to put my name on that trophy
If they maintain their positions after day one it will be Westwood, who won the European Order of Merit title in 2000, who just comes out on top on Sunday.
"It's all about jockeying for position over these first three rounds and then going for the kill on Sunday," the 36-year-old Westwood said.
"There's a lot of water still to go under the bridge until Sunday and the idea is to win this tournament so that everything else falls into place."
Ireland's Padraig Harrington finished level with McIlroy in a group of five players on four under.
The 20-year-old McIlroy, who is aiming to become the youngest money list winner since Seve Ballesteros in 1976, said he was happy with a "solid first day" to his challenge in Dubai.
"I was walking up the ninth hole and I looked up at the leaderboard to see that level par was not doing it so I had to up my game," said the youngster from Holywood, who partnered Westwood in the opening round.
"It was nice to get those four birdies on the back nine.
"When I saw that I was six shots behind, it really gave me a kick up the backside as I want to win this tournament, not just the Race to Dubai.
"I didn't think I would find it as difficult as I did. Lee's been around a lot longer than me. You want to try and concentrate on the tournament, but at the same time you're seeing what he's doing.
"It will be nice not to play with him [on Friday], just to concentrate fully on my own score and on my own game.
"I think it will be good for both of us not to play together. It almost felt like a last group final round sort of thing. We're the top two in the Race to Dubai and it's hard to get away from that.
"I think the intensity levels have been raised a little just because there's so much to play for, especially to be the first person to become the champion of the Race to Dubai.
"I think it will be a great honour to put my name on that trophy."
The Race to Dubai standings after round one:
Lee Westwood (-6) - Joint 2nd
Race to Dubai position: 2nd
Trails McIlroy by £114,829 but in position to take the title.
Rory McIlroy (-4) - Joint 5th
Race to Dubai position: 1st
Would have to finish fifth on his own if Westwood stays in second place if he is is to overtake him.
Martin Kaymer (-1) - Joint 22nd
Race to Dubai position: 3rd
Trails by £184,470. Needs a top-four finish to do it, but only if Westwood finishes behind him, McIlroy outside the top 30 and Fisher does not win.
Ross Fisher (+1) - Joint 40th
Race to Dubai position: 4th
Trails by £388,284. Has to finish first or second just to have a chance and even victory would not be enough if Westwood or McIlroy are second.