Published: Dec 08, 2011 12:00 PM EST
Updated: Dec 09, 2011 7:30 AM EST

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - Former British Open champion Paul Lawrie shot a 7-under 65 Thursday to take an early three-stroke clubhouse lead in the opening round of the Dubai World Championship.

Lawrie, who won the British Open in 1999 but has won only once on the European Tour this year, leads Ross Fisher, Robert Rock and Alvaro Quiros in the season-ending tournament. Four others players shot 69.

"I played really nice today. Hit the ball solid," Lawrie said. "Gave myself an awful lot of chances out there, especially a wee run from the fifth through to the 14th. I seemed to be sort of in the 10 or nine feet, around 10 feet all day."

Lawrie, who finished 46th at last week's Hong Kong Open and 172nd at the Singapore Open, said he hit the fairway and "didn't miss a green all day."

"I don't mind hitting form in these big events. It's quite nice," Lawrie said. "It would be nice to keep going."

The 93rd-ranked Fisher started slowly but had two birdies and an eagle to go with one bogey on the back nine. He hit a 120-yard wedge on No. 15 that went in for eagle.

"I felt like I played really nicely actually," Fisher said. "Drove the ball really good. Gave myself a lot of good looks at birdies early on and unfortunately couldn't make anything. So I just tried to stay patient and birdied nine, which kind of kept me going."

Fisher said a win in Dubai would help him put a frustrating year behind him

"I've obviously been a bit disappointed with the season so far," said Fisher, who hasn't won a tournament this year. "I've won the last four years, so I'm going to be trying to keep that going. I never want to play a season without winning. So this is my last chance saloon as it goes."

Top-ranked Luke Donald leads the Race To Dubai and has the chance to become the first golfer to win both the European and American money titles.

To claim the title, No. 2-ranked Rory McIlroy must win the tournament and hope Donald finishes outside the top nine.

Donald and McIlroy are playing in the final pairing.

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