Rory McIlroy shot his lowest European Tour score in more than three years with a 9-under 63 Thursday to take a three-shot clubhouse lead in the first round of the Dubai Desert Classic.
McIlroy grabbed an eagle and seven birdies in ideal scoring conditions on the Majlis Course, easily upstaging playing partner Tiger Woods, who was five shots back after a 68.
It was McIlroy's best European Tour round since a 63 on the opening day of the UBS Hong Kong Open in November 2010.
McIlroy won his maiden European Tour title in Dubai in 2009.
Woods made four birdies on his front nine but finished with nine straight pars.
Defending champion Stephen Gallacher of Scotland, who played alongside McIlroy and Woods, was tied for second with three other players.