Collin Morikawa was delighted to see the hard work paying off after three days in which he had worked on "everything" in his game.
The European Number One finished in a tie for 62nd at last week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and instantly went to work, revealing that he had a marathon session on the range on Monday.
It looked to be paying clear dividends as four birdies in a row including a chip-in at the 16th helped him race to the turn in 31 at Emirates Golf Club, and when he also birdied the second the American led by three.
He then made three bogeys in his final four holes to slip back to four under but the World Number Two was happy with his day's work.
"It was a disappointing finish but I've been working Monday through Wednesday, late into yesterday even after the pro-am just trying to figure things out," he said.
"When you're thinking about so much you always have to remember to go and play golf so I'm happy with the four under, not thrilled, but to see some of the things that I've been working on show up on the course was really nice.
"Once I tee the ball to once I take the ball out of the cup, I've been thinking about everything, trying to figure out what to do and sometimes it's all you have and you've got to play with it.
"That's what I'm doing, I'm trying to not worry about too much and just show up on the golf course, play golf and just know where my misses will be and I think that's the biggest thing.
"When I showed up on Monday it was going back to drills I've done in the past. Most of the time it's the same things that happen and sometimes it just gets too far on one side that I've really never seen.
"You just hope that a drill brings you back and we're slowly teetering to where I want to be but even if I'm not there, I still feel like I can go out and play and I've just got to make it work."