Rory McIlroy has made a flying start to the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai on Thursday by taking the clubhouse lead.

McIlroy followed a birdie on the first with a stunning approach to the par-five second to set up an eagle from 12 feet, before picking up further shots on the fifth, seventh and eighth.

A bogey on the ninth briefly threatened to derail McIlroy's momentum, but the four-time major winner birdied the 10th from five feet to move back into the outright lead on six under par.

He made seven pars before finishing his round with a superb up and down for a closing birdie on the Jumeirah Golf Estates Earth course, where he has won twice before.

McIlroy had to scramble for par several times on the closing stretch but finished his round in style with a deft pitch to the 18th setting up a sixth birdie of the day.

That gave the former world number one a seven-under-par 65 and a two-shot lead.

Shane Lowry also enjoyed a good day. He finished on three under par after birdies on third, seventh, 11th, 14th and 15th, with his round blemished by bogeys on the ninth and 18th.


McIlroy won the CJ Cup in Las Vegas last month and is seeking back-to-back wins for the first time since 2014, when he won the Open Championship, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and US PGA Championship – his last major success to date – on consecutive starts.

That looked a distant prospect as he lost his first three matches in September's Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits, where his victory over Xander Schauffele in the singles was followed by an emotional interview in which he said he felt he had let his team-mates down.

"I feel I’m a big boy now, I’ve been around the block a bit, and if I have problems or struggles, I should be able to sort them out myself," McIlroy said.

"Instead of looking to others to fix my problems I’m going to take responsibility a bit and that’s what I did after the Ryder Cup. Put my head down and spent a lot of time just on the range and just figuring out, OK, what is it do I do well and what do I need to get back to.

"I talked about this a little bit after CJ (Cup). I think sometimes when you don’t play your best, I maybe don’t set my standards high enough sometimes. They are high, but getting into contention in one major this year (the US Open) isn’t good enough for me.

"I’ve done way better than that before and I know I can again, especially with how I’m playing and feeling like I’ve got my golf game back, basically.

"So I’m excited for those four events next year, and excited about the road ahead because I really feel like I’m on the right path."

Even a victory on Sunday would not be enough for McIlroy to win the Race to Dubai for the fourth time, the 32-year-old having started the week 20th in the standings.

Open champion Collin Morikawa and Billy Horschel are vying for that crown and are midway through their rounds.

Tapio Pulkkanen, Joachim B Hansen and Christiaan Bezuidenhout are two shots behind the Northern Irishman on five under.