Denmark’s Thorbjørn Olesen and Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal were both delighted to make a good start to the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
The 22 year old Olesen, a winner in Sicily last season, felt he had “played really lovely today”, while former Rookie of the Year Larrazábal described his round as “great golf”.
Both players had five birdies and one bogey in rounds of 68 to lie one behind Jamie Donaldson and Justin Rose.
“Unfortunately I finished with a bogey but it was a really steady round and I never got in trouble out there, which was good,” said Olesen.
“I was very rusty last week but did a lot of practise the last two weeks. My game has improved and I hit a lot of five woods today, which is very important.
“I had a long break in December, I had three or four weeks off, so I need to get back into it. Two good weeks with a lot of practise, feels pretty good now.
“A lot of things that I can improve from last year, but I had a great season, and I want to win more tournaments, that's it.”
Larrazábal, 29, did not enter the winner’s circle in 2012 despite six top-ten finishes, and has revamped his swing in an effort to become more consistent.
“I started playing great golf the front nine - I was four under very early on the tenth,” he said.
“The course is playing tough and I'm very happy to start the year like this. I've been working only with myself and the people at home know how hard I've worked this winter to be in shape and to change my golf swing a little bit. It's paying off a little bit too early.
“To be one of the top players in the world, you have to have a solid swing and a little bit more repetitive - that's what I tried to do. I’ve tried to change a couple things to be more consistent and it looked like it worked today, but golf is very strange, so it can happen the other way.
“It's going to be a lot better soon but I have to keep working. Obviously you can see little changes now, but it's going to be a long term change.
“I wasn't playing that great the last year, but I know that the work I'm doing is not for this week, it's not for next week; it's for the future. It's going to pay off in the middle of the season. When you're working as hard as I did this winter, when this round happens, you feel very happy.”