The DP World Tour Championship began on time despite a torrential overnight storm in Dubai, with Scot Marc Warren first to shine.
The news was not so good for Ireland's Shane Lowry, however - the Portugal Masters champion withdrew from The European Tour’s season-ending event after falling ill with a virus.
Lowry missed Tuesday's pro-am and then went to hospital, where he was placed on a drip because of his dehydration.
By pulling out of the event, the field – initially comprising the leading 60 money winners on The European Tour this year - was reduced to 56. Thomas Björn and Retief Goosen were not playing because of injuries and Ross Fisher had withdrawn earlier in the week.
The downpour deposited 20mm of rain on the course in two hours, but England's Richard Finch kicked the event off at the scheduled 7.52am. At 60th on The Race to Dubai the Yorkshire golfer had squeezed in by €9,555 over Australian Brett Rumford, but he managed only a front nine 39.
The scoring was better elsewhere, though, and after two hours' play Warren led after four birdies in his first six holes.
It was only by a stroke. Compatriots Scott Jamieson and David Drysdale had reached three under - Jamieson eagled the long second - and Northern Ireland's Michael Hoey was on the same mark.
In keeping with tradition the players were sent out in reverse order, meaning Race to Dubai winner Rory McIlroy was scheduled to tee off last at 12.40pm with Swede Peter Hanson.
Warren added a fifth birdie at the 461 yard eighth and turned in 31 to lead Jamieson, Drysdale, Hoey and also Irishman Peter Lawrie by two.
Swede Henrik Stenson, winner of the SA Open Championship on Sunday, took six at the 583 yard second, but birdied the fourth and sixth - both par threes - to get to one under, while Sergio Garcia, who underwent eye surgery after The Ryder Cup to correct an astigmatism and is playing his first event since, opened with a bogey and remained one over after eight.
Warren reached seven under with two to play - even with a bogey at the short 13th.
Further birdies came on the 12th, long 14th, where he played a brilliant chip up a bank to five feet, and 486 yard 16th, while on the 15th he hooked an iron off the tee behind a tree, chipped out and then played his approach to three feet to save par.
Playing partner Lawrie was two behind in second, while Jamieson's 68 put him in a tie for third with yet another Scot, Stephen Gallacher, and Dane Anders Hansen.
Garcia was next-to-last by then on three over, bogeying again at the ninth and 12th.