McIlory, currently trailing the European Tour's number one this season, Luke Donald, by Ã¢Â‚Â¬1.02 million has the opportunity to eat into that lead by winning the Ã¢Â‚Â¬341,000 first prize.
He would then be within striking distance of destroying Donald's dream of winning the money list on both the European and PGA Tours this season at next week's Dubai World Championship.
New Zealander Danny Lee, likely needing a top two finish if he is to advance to next week's Dubai World Championship has made an encouraging start to be in a share of 5th.
Marcus Fraser, needing perhaps a top four to move inside the top 60 and earn the right to play in Dubai, is in a share of 7th.
Darren Beck is in 13th position and four behind the leaders is the next best of the large Australasian contingent.
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