Graeme Storm scored an impressive four under par 48 in the first round of the Omega Dubai Desert Classic today.
The Hartlepool golfer is tied in sixth place, just two shots off the lead.
Storm is tied with Rory McIlroy, as well as South African great Ernie Els and five others.
The 37-year-old started his round on the back nine and made two pars before dropping his only shot, a bogey on the par four 12th.
He hit straight back with a birdie on the 13th and also birdied the 17th and 18th after a run of three pars.
Storm was a model of consistency on the ‘inward’ nine, parring seven holds and hitting birdies on the second and fourth holes.
Defending champion McIlroy was satisfied with his opening round after recovering from a poor start thanks to some characteristic flashes of brilliance.
Starting on the back nine at Emirates Golf Club, McIlroy had to hole from 15 feet for bogey on the 10th after finding a greenside bunker with his approach and watching his recovery attempt roll off the green and back to his feet.
The world number two also did well to scramble a bogey on the second after hooking his tee shot deep into the trees and failing to find the fairway with his second shot, but fired six birdies to finish four under par, two behind clubhouse leader Alex Noren of Sweden.
“I thought I did well considering the start and some of the shots I hit throughout the round,” McIlroy said.
“I felt like 68 was probably a fair reflection of how I played.”
Noren, who was joint second behind McIlroy 12 months ago, carded six birdies in a flawless 66 to enjoy a one-shot lead over playing partner Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Australia’s Brett Rumford and South Africa’s Trevor Fisher Jnr.
Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke had held the outright lead after 13 holes, but the former Open champion played the remaining five in five over to card a disappointing 71.