DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Robert Allenby of Australia shot a 7-under 65 Thursday for a one-shot lead after the first round of the Dubai World Championship, while Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy vied for the European Tour money title.
Allenby had eight birdies and only one bogey on the Earth Course, which is hosting the $7.5 million final event of the European Tour season. He was one shot ahead of Westwood, Chris Wood and Camilo Villegas, who all shot 66.
When the tournament ends Sunday, the top player on the European Tour’s money list will win a $1.5 million bonus from the Race to Dubai.
Westwood, second in the race, was two shots ahead of money leader McIlroy of Northern Ireland, who shot a 68. Westwood produced three birdies in the final four holes to boost his chances of overtaking McIlroy’s $191,000 lead in the money race.
The two other players in contention for the money title were off the pace. Germany’s Martin Kaymer shot a 71, and England’s Ross Fisher had a 73.
Allenby decided to travel to Dubai with a new set of clubs in his bag. He adjusted quickly to the feel on the desert course, designed by fellow Australian Greg Norman.
Villegas and Wood, playing for the first time in a month after injuring an ankle falling down a flight of stairs during a tournament in Spain, had taken the clubhouse lead with 66s. That score was matched later in the day by Westwood.