Martin Kaymer, the European Tour Rookie of the Year, carded an impressive six-under-par 66 to hold a one-stroke lead over Henrik Stenson following the first round of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship here yesterday.
Kaymer made a brilliant start to his first tournament since winning the rookie accolade with an eagle three at his first hole, the 10th.
The 23-year-old German dropped his only shot at the par three 15th before quickly regaining the stroke three holes later to reach the turn two under par. Four birdies on the front nine followed to give Kaymer, who regards Ernie Els as his role model, a slender lead over the Dubai-based Swede.
"I made several putts and it wasn't that easy to play today because it was windy," Kaymer said. "My goal was always just to make the cut, but now I am raring to go."
Stenson's fellow Swede, Robert Karlsson, was a further shot adrift, alongside Australia's Adam Scott, with Lee Westwood, Ignacio Garrido and another Swede, Peter Hedblom, a stroke further back.
Wales' Jamie Donaldson, Ian Poulter and Ireland's Damien McGrane were at two under par, a stroke ahead of the English trio Phillip Archer, Graeme Storm and Luke Donald.
A resurgent Darren Clarke, on the back of successive top four finishes, joined a congested group on level par, including the Open champion Padraig Harrington, Nick Dougherty and Colin Montgomerie.
The defending champion Paul Casey made a disappointing start with a birdie-less, three-over-par 75.