Practice made perfect for Ireland's Shane Lowry as he equalled the course record with a stunning 62 in the first round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
Lowry carded 10 birdies and no bogeys to set a daunting clubhouse target of 10 under par, with France's Mike Lorenzo-Vera and the South African pair of Louis Oosthuizen and Richard Sterne his nearest challengers on seven under.
World number two Brooks Koepka, who can return to the top of the rankings with a victory this week, is five shots off the pace following a 67, with defending champion Tommy Fleetwood two shots further back in pursuit of a third straight win in the £5.4million event at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
Lowry has not played competitively since finishing 10th alongside Paul Dunne in the World Cup in Melbourne in November, but reaped the rewards of a lengthy spell of practice at the start of the new year.
"I had a lovely break at Christmas," said Lowry, whose 62 equalled the record set by Henrik Stenson in the inaugural edition of the event in 2006. "I was home for the whole lot of it and I came out here with my family and rented a house in Dubai.
“We’ve had it since the third of January. Myself and Paul Dunne are sharing the house and we’re practising together and we’ve been playing a lot together over at the Els Club in Dubai, and we got some great work done.
“I feel good about my game. It’s probably the best pre-season I’ve ever done, and it showed today. I’m just hoping I can keep going.
“I didn’t hit as many fairways as I would have liked, but I was hitting everything close and managed to hole a couple of putts as well. It was one of those days where it just felt comfortable.
“But look, I just want to enjoy it because it’s a great day and I think it equals my best round I’ve ever had, so enjoy it and then get out tomorrow and see what I can do.”
Lowry lost his PGA Tour card last season - after six missed cuts and not one top-10 finish - now ranked 75th in the world he’ll be hoping his 11th season on the European Tour is his best yet.