Europe's Ryder Cup captain and former world number one Luke Donald carved out a one-shot lead at the Abu Dhabi Championship on Thursday after a first round score of 64.
Donald carded nine birdies and just one bogey to set the clubhouse target at eight under par.
Four shots off the pace is 2016 British Open champion Henrik Stenson, the man who was replaced by Donald as Ryder Cup skipper for the 2023 tournament after the Swede joined the rebel LIV Golf series.
Fellow former British Open champions Shane Lowry and Francesco Molinari are among seven players to shoot 67.
Donald, 45, said he was pleased with his performance, but joked that he is some way off making his way into his own team for the Ryder Cup in Rome later this year.
"1975 I think was the last time that happened. No, we are a long way from that," he admitted.
"Just playing here the last couple of days, I felt like there were some low scores out here as long as the wind didn't blow too hard.
"Just kind of suits my eye. It's not too tight off the tee. I think you have to pick some good lines.
"I think you're going to hit a lot of greens out here because you're going to hit a lot of fairways, too."
Just behind Donald are Guido Migliozzi and Jason Scrivener on seven under par after their 65s.
Irishman Seamus Power is another shot further back after his bogey-free 66.