U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy ripped into the first round of the Dubai World Championship with five birdies in six holes to leave his money race rival Luke Donald behind.
The Northern Irishman’s six birdies included a 20-foot putt at the last hole which put McIlroy behind 2010 Czech Open champion Peter Hanson (64) and 2011 Dunhill Links Championship winner Paul Lawrie (65) with a 6-under 66.
Meanwhile, Donald who played opposite the Irishman shot an even-par 72. Donald posted four birdies on the front nine made three bogeys on the back to tie for 26th.
The 34-year-old number one golfer attended his first event in five weeks so that he could be beside his family during the birth of his second daughter and pay last respects to his father.
If Donald steps up his performance and wins the Dubai event, he will become the first gofer ever to win both the PGA and European money titles.
McIlroy also has a shot at the European money title, but only if he wins the $7.5 million tournament and Donald finishes worse than the top ten.
Two years ago, McIlroy had an unpleasant experience with the Dubai World Championship when he was about to win the European Tour money title and Lee Westwood moved past at the last minute by winning the tournament.