|Abu Dhabi Championship first-round leaderboard|
|-10 S Lowry (Ire); –7 L Oosthuizen (SA), M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra), R Sterne (SA), P Larrazabal (Spa) ;-6 A Bjork (Swe), S Kjeldsen (Den), I Poulter (Eng), L Westwood (Eng), M Kaymer (Ger) -5 B Koepka (USA), T Pieters (Bel), F Zanotti (Par).|
|Selected others: -3 D Johnson (USA), T Fleetwood (Eng), R Fisher (Eng), J Morrison (Eng); Par H Stenson (Swe)|
Ireland’s Shane Lowry equalled the course record of 62 to secure the lead after the first round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in the UAE,
Lowry’s bogey-free 10-under-par round on Wednesday included five birdies on the front nine and five on the back.
The Irishman, 31, enjoys a three-shot lead over South Africans Louis Oosthuizen and Richard Sterne, plus Mike Lorenzo-Vera and Pablo Larrazabal.
Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer are among a group on six under.
Poulter overcame the effects of an epic journey from Hawaii to card an opening 66, which was matched by three-time winner Kaymer, Westwood, Soren Kjeldsen and Alexander Bjork.
World number two Brooks Koepka is five shots off the pace after firing a 67.
American Koepka could return to the top of the rankings this week with a victory.
Defending champion Tommy Fleetwood is two shots further back as he continues his pursuit of a third straight win in the £5.4million event at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
The Englishman is joined on three under by world number three Dustin Johnson.
‘Feeling good about my game’
Lowry has not played competitively since finishing 10th alongside Paul Dunne in the World Cup in Melbourne in November, but reaped the rewards of a lengthy spell of practice at the start of the new year.
Lowry, whose 62 equalled the record set by Henrik Stenson in the inaugural edition of the event in 2006, is seeking a first victory since 2015.
“I feel good about my game. It’s probably the best pre-season I’ve ever done, and it showed today. I’m just hoping I can keep going.
“I didn’t hit as many fairways as I would have liked, but I was hitting everything close and managed to hole a couple of putts as well. It was one of those days where it just felt comfortable.
“But look, I just want to enjoy it because it’s a great day and I think it equals my best round I’ve ever had, so enjoy it and then get out tomorrow and see what I can do,” added the former WGC-Bridgestone Invitational winner.
Lowry’s Ryder Cup ambition
Qualifying for next year’s Ryder Cup will not get under way until September, but with close friend Padraig Harrington already confirmed as Europe’s captain for Whistling Straits in 2020, Lowry makes no secret of his desire to secure a debut in the contest.
“I could have got in a few events in America with my category and maybe got an invite here or there, but my main goal for the next 18 months is to be on the Ryder Cup team,” added Lowry, who lost his PGA Tour card at the end of last season.
“I’ve never played Ryder Cup and I really want to at some stage, but to play with him (Harrington) as my captain would be unbelievable. That’s my plan.”