Paul McGinley told Sky Sports that Henrik Stenson must focus on himself, not his Race to Dubai rivals, at the DP World Tour Championship.
Stenson held a 200,000 point advantage over nearest challengers Justin Rose, Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter in the European Tour money list ahead of the season-ending event at Jumeirah Golf Estates.
And the Swede - who won the PGA Tour's FedEX Cup earlier this year and has risen to third in the world rankings - began the DP World Tour Championship in strong fashion, firing a four-under-par 68 to sit two strokes behind early pacesetter Alejandro Canizares.
Stenson's lofty lead in the Race to Dubai means he does not necessarily need to win the tournament in the United Arab Emirates to take the crown, but McGinley says the 37-year-old should place greater emphasis on his performance and not of Rose et al.
"I think Henrik has to play his own game and control things the way he did at the FedEx Cup over in America because if he starts looking over his shoulder [he won't be at his best]," said Europe's 2014 Ryder Cup captain.
"He played a very good round of golf [on Thursday]; he was a little bit unlucky with the putter every now and then and three-putted at the last but he was very impressive."
Poulter (-3), Rose (-2) and McDowell (even par) remain in contention to pressure Stenson over the next few days and McGinley praised the trio - who will be hoping to figure at Gleneagles next September - for their opening-round efforts.
And the Irishman - who has won four events on the European Tour, most recently the Volvo Masters in 2005 - anticipates a thrilling climax to the money-spinning competition on the Persian Gulf.
"Poulter was very impressive, Justin was up and down - not playing his best but getting an impressive score - and while Graeme didn't play particularly well, he hung in there," added McGinley.
"There are no winners or losers but there was real jockeying for position on day one and I think we are in for a lot of excitement as the greens are in excellent if grainy condition.
"Plus, these players get a buzz out of the occasion and often play their best under this pressure."