South African Richard Sterne shot the lowest round of his European Tour career to lead after the opening day of the Dubai Desert Classic.
The 31-year-old from Pretoria - fit and playing a full schedule again after a back injury limited him to only four events in 2010 and six the following season - carded a superb 10-under-par 62 that was only a single stroke outside the course record set by compatriot Ernie Els 19 years ago.
Els was five shots better than anybody else that day and went on to win by six, but Sterne goes into the second round just one ahead of Scotland's Stephen Gallacher.
Indeed, such was the low scoring on the day one at the Emirates Golf Club that Lee Westwood's 67 - the same as 56-year-old Mark O'Meara, winner in 2004 - in his first competitive outing of the season was not even good enough to put him in the top 10.
Two more Scots, Chris Doak and Scott Jamieson - the latter already a winner in Durban earlier in the campaign - share third place on seven-under along with England's Tommy Fleetwood, while Paul Casey and Italy's Matteo Manassero are part of a six-man group one further back.
But it was Sterne who stole the show and, after a round that featured ten birdies, he told Sky Sports: "It was just a nice start, the back-nine here gives you a chance with those three par-fives and I had good eagle chances on all of them.
One of those days
"I made six birdies on the front nine and when you're making a lot of birdies it's tough to keep it going, but today was one of those days when I did. I didn't have too many long putts, I had a lot of short putts and fortunately they all went in as well."
Gallacher's 63 equalled his lowest Tour round in 398 events, only one of which - the 2004 Dunhill Links at St Andrews - has ended in victory.
The 38-year-old, joint runner-up with Westwood last year and armed with a new driver after breaking his regular one last week, sank a 175-yard seven-iron for a two on the 485-yard sixth, added another eagle on the 13th and then had a hat-trick of birdies from the 15th.
Chris Wood and Sergio Garcia, first and second in Qatar last weekend, both shot 68, but the Spanish star was troubled by his left shoulder and warned afterwards: "If it does not get better than it is right now I don't know whether I will play tomorrow."
Westwood, who eagled the 564-yard 18th, is looking forward to resuming after a bogey-free start to his season and confirmed that his move to Florida has enabled him to stay sharp over the winter.
"I have a few new clubs in the bag, woods and putter, and they all behaved," he said.
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