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Thursday, 09 February 2012
Rafael Cabrera-Bello  (Getty Images)
Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Getty Images)
Spain's Rafael Cabrera-Bello took a two shot lead during the early stages of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic but The European Tour has still to see its first 59.

The 27 year old already had a 60 to his name when he teed off, but nine birdies in his first 11 holes left him needing four more to achieve the magic figure.

The Canary Islander parred the last seven, however, and so had to be content with a 63 and an early two stroke lead in the final leg of The European Tour's Middle East swing.

In joint second place after the morning action at the Emirates Club - there for the taking with hardly any wind - were German Marcel Siem and Scotland's Scott Jamieson, while Lee Westwood posted a 69 and last week's winner Paul Lawrie a 71 after double-bogeying his final hole.

Rory McIlroy and Abu Dhabi champion Robert Rock were among the later starters along with World Number Four Martin Kaymer, defending champion Alvaro Quiros and former winners Fred Couples and Mark O'Meara.

Siem had the chance to grab his lowest round on The European Tour when he stood on the fairway at the par five 18th eight under, but his second flew right of target into the lake - he thought there must have been mud under the ball - and he ran up a bogey six.

The highlight of Jamieson's round was an eagle three on the 550 yard 13th and the 28 year old Scot backed it up with five birdies, three of them on the par threes.

Lawrie had kept a bogey off his card as well until his approach to the tricky ninth finished on the wall on the edge of the water. He took a penalty drop, but could not get up and down.

Westwood, who lost a play-off in the event to Miguel Angel Jiménez two years ago, turned in three under after birdies at the 13th, 17th and 18th, but after three-putting the third for par he failed to get up and down from off the green at the 188 yard fourth.

The World Number Three's response was immediate as he pitched to three feet on the fifth, but that was to be his last gain of the day. Nevertheless he was only just outside the top ten.

Dane Thomas Björn, who beat Tiger Woods in taking the title in 2001, shot 66 to lie joint fourth with big-hitting Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, France's Gregory Bourdy and also South African Richard Sterne, playing only his 12th European Tour event in the last three years following chronic back trouble.

McIlroy was still seeking his first birdie after four holes and Rock bogeyed the long third, but American John Daly - fourth last week - was two under after three.

Scotland's Stephen Gallacher holed-in-one at the 190 yard 15th - his sixth - and after eight holes was four under along with Ireland's Peter Lawrie.

McIlroy, though, bogeyed the seventh to be one over and both Rock and Quiros were two over at the same point.

Cabrera-Bello said: "Just for a second after the birdie on number two (his 11th hole) I tried to do the maths on what I needed for 59.

"Then I told myself to stop being foolish and don't be too greedy. Nothing wrong happened - there were some tough holes to come and I didn't drop a stroke.

"It's a really, really good score, but in itself it means nothing. If you want to stay grounded you think of how many leaders of the first round win the tournament.

"I know I have to play really, really good just to have a chance."

The crowd following McIlroy, Rock and Quiros did not have much to get excited about early on, but McIlroy then went on a run of five birdies in six holes from the ninth.

At four under the US Open Champion had moved into a tie for 12th on four under, while Rock and Quiros stood on level par along with Daly, whose day took a big turn for the worse when he triple-bogeyed the ninth.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1CABRERA-BELLO, RafaESP18-18
T2WESTWOOD, LeeENG18-17
T2GALLACHER, StephenSCO18-17
4SIEM, MarcelGER18-15
T5KJELDSEN, SørenDEN18-14
T5COETZEE, GeorgeRSA18-14
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