Henrik Stenson remains on course to win the European money list this year after hitting a four-under-par 68 in the first round of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai to lie two shots behind the surprise leader Alejandro Canizares.
Stenson, England's Justin Rose and Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell can win the Race to Dubai if they triumph in this season finale. The Swede, the Race leader, sank three birdies in the opening seven holes and was steady on the back nine before three-putting on the final hole.
Rose finished two-under in a solid, if unspectacular, round as he dropped his first shot of the day on the 17th. McDowell rallied from three-over with successive birdies on holes 14 to 16 to end on par.
England's Ian Poulter and Welshman Jamie Donaldson, who can also win the Race if they prevail here and Stenson finishes third or lower, scored 69 and 68 respectively. But the day belonged to Canizares, who matched McDowell's birdie run and dropped just one shot all round to card 66.
Rory McIlroy sank birdies in three of the opening four holes as his girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki looked on but could not sustain the momentum as he fired a one-under 71. "I feel like I played better than the score suggested," he said.