Abu Dhabi Championships: Matthew Baldwin is one of three players on five under par
Last Updated: 16/01/14 11:39pm
Matthew Baldwin: Round of 67 sees him tied for the lead
England's Matthew Baldwin is tied for the lead with France's Romain Wattel and Spain's Rafael Cabrera-Bello after the opening round of the Abu Dhabi Championship.
The trio fired five-under-par 67s to lead a group of seven players a shot off the pace, which includes Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley.
First round leaderboard:
GB&Ire unless stated:
-5 R Cabrero-Bello (Spa)
-5 R Wattel (Fra)
-5 M Baldwin
-4 J Luiten (Ned)
-4 D van der Walt (SA)
-4 M Warren
-4 J-F Lima (Por)
-4 P McGinley
-4 G Coetzee (SA)
-4 C Lee
The Irishman was disappointed to drop a shot at the closing hole to fall out of the lead but is delighted to be playing good golf alongside potential Ryder Cup players.
McGinley outshone playing partners and potential Gleneagles team members Tommy Fleetwood and Thorbjorn Olesen - who carded rounds of 73 and 74 respectively - but is relishing the opportunity to compete alongside some of Europe's rising stars.
"That's a big thing for me to do," he said. "Both of them could be on the team. The more information I get, the better.
"I've played with Tommy three or four times now and that's great. Should he make the team I feel I'm better prepared to manage him and the same with Thorbjorn."
Baldwin and Wattel have yet to win on the tour although both have runner-up finishes to their name.
"Maybe a win is around the corner, you never know," said Baldwin, who finished second in his last outing in the Nelson Mandela Championship in December.
"There are plenty of guys that obviously want to win as well but I think looking at the year ahead, top-60 is a target," he added in a reference to the money list.
All the players agreed the rough was the toughest ever seen at the course, with three-time winner Martin Kaymer likening it to that normally found at the US Open.
Sergio Garcia described the rough as dangerous after a round of 76 that left him with an injured shoulder, while Phil Mickelson tweaked his back during a 73.
Rory McIlroy sits alongside Kaymer on two-under-par with Luke Donald and Thomas Bjorn amongst many having carded a round of 70.
Defending champion Jamie Donaldson carded two sixes on his round of 73 while last year's in-form player Henrik Stenson took one more shots in a round containing just a solitary birdie.