Westwood, Rory chasing lead at Omega Dubai Desert Classic

First Round – European Tour – Omega Dubai Desert Classic –Emirates Golf Club – United Arab Emirates –

Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger rallied with five straight birdies on his back nine en route to a bogey-free 8-under-64.

Thanks to the back-nine 31, Wiesberger leads the European Tour’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic after 18 holes at Emirates Golf Club in the United Arab Emirates. The 29-year-old has been trending this season in the mix every week. He finished third last week at the CommercialBank Qatar Masters – his second straight Top 6 on tour.

Rory McIlroy, No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking, made his 2015 debut in Dubai opening with a 66. Rory is T-6 alongside two-time defending champion at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic Stephen Gallacher and Marc Warren, who was runner-up last week in Qatar. Rory made a lone bogey in his round.

England’s Lee Westwood headlines a group just a shot back at 7-under that includes Andy Sullivan, who captured the South African Open in early January.

U.S. Open champion Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell are T-13 after 67s in the first round.

McIlroy was the outright betting favorite at 3-to-1 odds this week at Rory won this title in 2009 – his first on the European Tour at age 19. He also has five Top 10s here in his last five starts.

Of course, Rory opened with 64 here a season ago before slipping back on Sunday with a 74 and a T-9 finish.

Other Golf news:

  • Tiger Woods tees off his 2015 season at the Waste Management Phoenix Open Thursday at 12:07 p.m. local time at TPC Scottsdale alongside American upstarts Jordan Spieth (who won tournaments in November and December) and Hyundai Tournament of Champions winner Patrick Reed. Phil Mickelson, a three-time champ in Phoenix, plays with Hunter Mahan and Rickie Fowler in the morning wave.
  • Stacy Lewis, third in the Rolex Ranking, is tied with Azahara Munoz and Jessica Korda at 6-under through 18 holes at the Coates Golf Championship on the LPGA Tour. The tournament features a Wednesday-to-Saturday set up finishing before the National Football League’s Super Bowl Sunday.
  • Sergio Garcia struggled in round one in Dubai carding a 75. He is T-117 and has plenty of work to make the weekend cut.
  • Wiesberger, who won twice in 2012 on the European Tour, was listed at 25-1 heading into Dubai this week. He is 59th in the world rankings.