A swashbuckling finish yielding five birdies in six holes catapulted Rory McIlroy up the Dubai World golf Championship leaderboard as he seized the early initiative in his European money-list battle with Luke Donald.
The US Open champion returned a six-under-par 66 while U.S. PGA Tour money-winner Donald, bidding to become the first player to land the orders of merit on both sides of the Atlantic, struggled to a 72.
Swede Peter Hansen led the field after a record-equalling 64.
McIlroy needs to win this week to have a chance of catching Donald.
The 22-year-old Northern Irishman kept alive the money-list battle by winning the Hong Kong Open on Sunday and has finished in the top five in his last five events on the European Tour.