Swede Alexander Noren set a strong early pace on a blustery opening morning of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Club.
Despite strong early morning wind whipping sand across the Majlis Course, Noren picked up four birdies over his opening 11 holes to top the leaderboard by one stroke ahead of South African Charl Schwartzel.
Schwartzel, who leads The Race to Dubai after his consecutive wins on home soil earlier this season, started on the tenth and picked up shots at the 13th, 17th and first to reach three under after 11 holes.
Dane Anders Hansen, who posted the last of his three wins at the 2009 Joburg Open, currently sits sixth in The Race to Dubai after recording back-to-back third-placed finishes in South Africa at the start of the season before posting a third top ten in Abu Dhabi.
The 39 year old struggled in Doha last week and posted just one under par round, but after picking up a first birdie of the day at his second hole, added back-to-back birdies before dropping into the group on two under.
Francesco Molinari, who missed the cut in Qatar last week after finishing 13th in Abu Dhabi, cancelled out a first hole gain, but two birdies in three holes moved the Italian to two under par alongside Darren Clarke, Paul Lawrie, Martin Kaymer, Ross Fisher and Richie Ramsay.
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