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Rory McIlroy had a year to forget in 2013 but the Northern Irishman showed some of the golf that made him a name in the sport as he shot an impressive round of 63 on the first day of the Dubai Desert Classic.
The two-time major champions managed to pick up just one win last year but that did finally come in December and the 24-year-old has seemingly been able to take that form through into 2014.
McIlroy produced a superb eagle at the third hole on his way to a nine-under par round, which has really set down an early marker to his rivals at the tournament.
Having come through a turbulent 2013, the Hollywood golfer looks a lot more settled and the player himself feels like he is getting back to the kind of touch which saw him at one stage climb to the top of the world rankings at a very young age.
McIlroy told Sky Sports: “It was really nice, I played really well from tee to green and drove the ball really well again.
“I only missed a couple of fairways and one green, and took advantage of how I’m driving the ball. I just need to keep it going for the next three days.
“It’s close. I’ve shot a couple of good rounds this year – obviously this is lower than what I went in Abu Dhabi but I’m very comfortable with my game.”
McIlroy will be hoping to keep up the pressure on his rivals on Friday, as he looks to get 2014 off to a flying start ahead of the majors and the Ryder Cup to come down the line.