Sweden's Alexander Noren and in-form South African Charl Schwartzel battled testing windy conditions to claim the clubhouse lead in the first round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.
With a blustery wind whipping sand across Emirates Golf Club, Schwartzel - already a two-time winner this season - carded a bogey free four under par 68 to join Noren in sharing a one shot lead over Dane Anders Hansen.
Omega European Masters champion Noren looked on course to claim the lead outright but carded his only bogey of the day at the last after hitting into the deep and unforgiving rough on the Majlis course for just the third time.
"It is probably the toughest that I've seen the Emirates and I first played it in 2003," said Africa Open and Joburg Open winner Schwartzel.
"The wind was really blowing and visibility is not much with the sand and the dust. It was tough and you had to hit fairways with the way it is set up. This was a solid four under for me."
Noren holed a 25 foot birdie putt at his 12th hole of the day to move to the top of the leaderboard.
But the Swede failed to add to his tally of five birdies on the way home before carding his solitary blemish after missing the ninth fairway.
"It played tough and I understood that and that's why I was able to get off to a good start," said the 27 year old. "The birdie on my third hole got me really motivated.
"You know it is tough and you have got to play your shots and all of a sudden I was five under after 12 and it felt really easy, everything went my way."
With only 12 players of the 66 morning starters under par, Simon Dyson, Ross Fisher, Asian number one Thongchai Jaidee and Sweden's Christian Nilsson sit two shots off the pace after first rounds of 70.
Darren Clarke dropped his only shot of the day at the last to card a 71 to lie one under alongside Martin Kaymer, Søren Hansen, Richie Ramsay, Francesco Molinari and David Horsey.
Abu Dhabi champion Kaymer also came unstuck on the ninth with a double bogey six after hitting his approach shot into the water.
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