Rory McIlroy scrambled to a five-under-par 67 to take a share of the lead with Sweden's Robert Karlsson after round one of the Abu Dhabi Championship.
US Open champion McIlroy mixed two bogeys with seven birdies, including a chip in on eight, to outscore playing partners Luke Donald and Tiger Woods.
"It's a good score but I don't feel I drove particularly well," said McIlroy.
Woods is two under after carding a bogey-free 70, with Luke Donald of England a shot further back.
Germany's Martin Kaymer, the defending champion and winner of this title three times in the last four years, shot a double-bogey six on the first in a round of five over par.
Starting on the 10th, world number one Donald opened with eight pars and two successive birdies, but a bogey on the par-three seventh checked his progress.
American Woods birdied the 11th, his second hole, and short fourth after hitting his tee shot to within a couple of feet, in a round that contained 16 pars.
"I controlled my ball all day and just had a hard time getting a feel for these greens," said the former world number one.
"I didn't quite read them and my speeds went off because I just didn't have it right."
McIlroy, playing his first tournament since recovering from suspected Dengue fever, fared better on and around the greens after struggling to find the fairways.
The 22-year-old Northern Irishman holed putts from nine, 12 and three feet on the 11th, 12th and 13th respectively to race to three under par.
He bogeyed the 14th and 17th but regained one of those shots on the par-five 18th despite his wild second shot hitting the hospitality tent.
Three birdies followed on the front nine but the world number three conceded his round was far from perfect.
"I didn't hit it in the fairway enough - that's something I'm going to have to work on, on the practice range," said McIlroy.
"I'm going to need to hit the ball in the fairway a lot more over the next three days."
Karlsson also missed a series of fairways and greens but also showed good scrambling skills to share the early lead after sinking seven birdies.
"I'm very proud of myself because I scored really well but I think I'm going to have to do quite a bit of work on the range now," said the 42-year-old Swede.
Spain's Sergio Garcia finished on one under after hitting his first hole-in-one in a European Tour event on the par-three 12th.
However, he gave one shot back on the next hole after finding a bush with his tee shot and being forced to take a penalty drop.
World number two Lee Westwood had four bogeys in his round but four birdies meant he finished the day on level par.
Gareth Maybin is one shot behind fellow Northern Irishman McIlroy, along with Richard Finch, while Robert Rock and Richie Ramsay are the other Britons above Woods on the leaderboard.