Desert lead for Wiesberger

European Tour

Bernd Wiesberger claimed the first-round lead at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic after he carded a flawless 64 at the Emirates Golf Club on Thursday.

The Austrian, who won both of his European Tour titles to date in 2012, had eight birdies to show for his efforts and is a shot clear of England’s Lee Westwood, South Africa Open winner Andy Sullivan, American Peter Uihlein and Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts.

“It was a solid back nine I have to say,” Wiesberger told europeantour.com.

“I got on a run at the end and could have birdied my last six holes there. Once I got the pace right on the greens, which were a bit slower than I expected, it went nicely.

“It feels good right now – I feel quite happy with what I expect out of my game. When I’m in trouble, I know I can scramble well, which is the part you don’t see right now because I’m hitting the ball quite nicely.”

Westwood said of his 65: “I played well; I hit a lot of good shots.

“My iron shots were pretty sharp and I putted nicely, but if I was being critical, I didn’t make enough of the par fives.”

Meanwhile, World Number One Rory McIlroy is just two shots back after a 66, though it could have been even better but for a poor drive on the ninth, which led to a bogey.

“I didn’t hit a fairway till my eighth hole but I scored well for those holes,” McIlroy said.

“I can’t really complain with a 66 to start. I feel like I’ve started off this tournament pretty well the last few years and it’s another good one … something to build on.”

The Desert Classic holds special memories for McIlroy as it is the place where he won his first European Tour title six years ago.

McIlroy was paired with Ryder Cup teammate Martin Kaymer, who carded a 67 to lie just three off the pace.

Defending champion Stephen Gallacher is in with a chance of picking up a hat-trick of titles in Dubai this week, and lies alongside McIlroy and several others on five under.

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