(CNN) -- Northern Ireland teenager Rory McIlroy underlined his future Ryder Cup potential with a superb eight-under-par 64 to hold a one-stroke first round lead at the Dubai Desert Classic before play was suspended due to bad light.
McIlroy carded nine birdies in a blistering round to underline his potential at the Dubai Desert Classic.
The 19-year-old carded nine birdies to hold a slender advantage over Sweden's Robert Karlsson, only a day after new Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie named him as a potential candidate for Celtic Manor next year.
McIlroy's only blemish came on his fourth hole of the day when he drove into a bush but he made amends as he holed from 15-feet on the last for a birdie to ensure the outright lead after calmly striking his approach into the heart of the green.
"It was actually nice to be out late because I wanted to do a little work on my putting before I went out. I was able to do that and holed a few nice ones," McIlroy told the UK Press Association.
"The conditions were perfect, the greens were soft, the fairways were soft. It was ideal scoring conditions," he added.
European number one Karlsson, a Ryder Cup winner in 2006, carded a bogey-free seven-under 65 to sit in the clubhouse a shot clear of early pacesetter Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and South Africa's Charl Schwartzel, who was only able to play 14 holes of his first round and will join 59 others in completing their rounds on Friday morning.
Karlsson was also happy to take advantage of the conditions which be believes will set a winning total of 20-under-par come Sunday -- a similar level to the recent tournaments in Abu Dhabi and Doha.
"There wasn't anything spectacular, but I took most of my chances, although I also missed a couple. All in all, it was very solid," he said.
Fernandez-Castano continued the form which saw the British Masters winner finish a strong seventh in Qatar last week. He stormed out of the blocks with five birdies over his opening nine holes but despite carding a further three birdies was only able to pick up a single stroke on his way home.
Frenchman Gregory Havret and Sweden's Alexander Noren sit three back after opening with first-round 67s, with Abu Dhabi winner Paul Casey bouncing back from missing the cut last week in Qatar with a bogey-free 68 to join in-form South African Louis Oosthuizen, who has finished second at his last two events, and fellow-Britons Graeme Storm and Justin Rose on four-under-par.