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Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy takes share of Dubai lead with four late birdies

Northern Ireland golf star Rory McIlroy opened the defence of his Dubai Desert Classic title with a four-under 68 yesterday to share a six-way lead.

The ninth-ranked McIlroy started erratically with a par, bogey and birdie in his opening three holes but rallied with four birdies on the back nine at Emirates Golf Club.

"Even though it was very tricky out there overall, it was a good day's work and I will be in good spirits going into the second round," said McIlroy, who holed a 35-foot birdie putt at No 3.

Also shooting a 68 were Alexander Noren of Sweden, Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, India's Jeev Milkha Singh, Italy's Edoardo Molinari and Stephen Dodd of Wales. Tom Watson shot a 73 at his first tournament in Dubai.

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