Dubai, United Arab Emirates – Rafael Cabrera-Bello fired a under 63 Thursday to grab a two-stroke lead after the first round of the Dubai Desert Classic.
Cabrera-Bello, whose lone tour title was at the 2009 Austrian Golf Open, birdied nine of his first 11 holes before cooling off. He parred the final seven holes.
Marcel Siem and Scott Jamieson share second place at minus-seven. Siem was in the first group off the first tee on the Majlis course at Emirates Golf Club on Thursday. He dropped his approach shot into the water on the 18th and that led to a closing bogey.
Cabrera-Bello started on the back nine Thursday and got off to a quick start with birdies on the 10th and 11th. He again converted back-to-back birdie efforts from the 13th to move four-under through five holes.
The 27-year-old Spaniard continued his fine play with a birdie on the 16th. He followed that with birdies on 17 and 18 to grab a piece of the lead at minus- seven.
After Siem moved ahead with a birdie on No. 17, Cabrera-Bello converted a birdie chance on the first to again move into a tie atop the leaderboard.
Cabrera-Bello made it five in a row as he birdied the second. That gave him the outright lead at minus-nine. Surely, he had thoughts of carding the first 59 in European Tour history at that point.
"Just for a second after the birdie on No. 2, I tried to do the math on what I needed for 59. Then I told myself to stop being foolish and don't be too greedy," Cabrera-Bello admitted. "Nothing wrong happened -- there were some tough holes to come and I didn't drop a stroke."
Not only did he not drop a shot, but Cabrera-Bello parred his final seven holes.
"It's a really, really good score, but in itself it means nothing. If you want to stay grounded, you think of how many leaders of the first round win the tournament," said Cabrera-Bello. "I know I have to play really, really good just to have a chance."
Siem flew up the leaderboard with five birdies in the first 10 holes, including a chip-in birdie on the sixth. He settled in with four pars in a row from the 11th.
The German poured in three straight birdies from the 15th to soar into the lead at minus-eight. He had a chance to end at nine-under, but his approach splashed into the pond short, right of the green at the 18th. That led to a closing bogey.
"I hit it pretty solid today. I thought it was one of my best rounds of golf ever," Siem stated. "I didn't make any stupid mistakes. I had a lot of good chances and made the putts too."
Jamieson had a bogey-free round with just two birdies on his opening nine. Around the turn, he birdied the 11th, then jumped to minus-five with an eagle on the par-five 13th.
The 28-year-old Jamieson birdied 15 and 18 to join Siem at minus-seven.
McIlroy and Kaymer were joined in fourth place by Thomas Bjorn, Richard Sterne, Nicolas Colsaerts, Gregory Bourdy and Romain Wattel.
Mark O'Meara, the 2004 winner, is tied for 20th at minus-three. Defending champion Alvaro Quiros opened with a two-under 70. Fred Couples, the 1995 champ, is among a large group of players tied with Quiros.
NOTES: McIlroy, Kaymer and Wattel were the only players in the top 10 that were in the afternoon wave...Stephen Gallacher had a hole-in-one on the par- three 15th, and is tied for 20th with O'Meara and world No. 3 Lee Westwood.