RYDER Cup vice-captain Thomas Bjorn shot to the lead after a opening round 66 at a storm-interrupted Barclays Singapore Open at Sentosa today.
Danish star Bjorn, three-times a winner last year, birdied three of his last six holes to open a one-stroke lead over Englishman Simon Khan, Spaniard Pablo Martin and Thai golfer Chinnarat Phadungsil.
Bjorn said: "I thought the course would be extremely difficult and my iron play was not 100 per cent, but I hit enough good ones and never got into big trouble.
"Any time you can find some shadow you do it.
"You don't do too much practice and you pace yourself - it's a long, long week and you've got to stay energised."
The feature group of the morning was Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott and Pádraig Harrington, but none of them sparkled.
Scott, seeking a fourth victory in the event, did best of the trio with a level-par 71, mixing three birdies with three bogeys.
Mickelson, joint runner-up behind Ian Poulter at the season's last world championship in China last week, shot 73 and Harrington 74.
The American set off with a birdie on the 10th, but double-bogeyed the short 14th, dropped more shots at the next two and could birdie only the 444-yard sixth after that.
Harrington, buoyed by a victory at the four-man Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda three weeks ago, did not have a single birdie all day, ending a run of 12 successive pars with a seven on the long fourth and finishing with a bogey.
McIlroy, having already clinched the PGA Tour money list, is in sight of clinching the European Tour crown too and after an opening bogey he birdied the fourth and fifth.
With girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki among the crowd - last week it was him watching her in Bulgaria - McIlroy dropped his second shot on the short eighth and returned to level par.
That was good enough only for a share of 37th place and shortly afterwards play was suspended because of the threat of lightning.
Playing partner Louis Oosthuizen, needing to win to have any chance of denying the Northern Irishman the European money list title, had just double-bogeyed the 587-yard seventh to be down on two over with Mickelson.
Paul Casey's end-of-season revival continued with a first-round 68.
Shane Lowry was one-under par after his first round was interrupted after nine holes while Peter Lawrie and Michael Hoey both managed to finish their opening rounds on one over par.
Edoardo Molinari capped a fine comeback after a disastrous start by recording the first hole-in-one of his professional career on the way to posting a one-under 70.
"I hit a six-iron 188 yards and we had a decent view of it.
"It pitched just short of the hole and all of a sudden the people behind the green started to scream and clap," he said