FORMER world number one Rory McIlroy's superb driving helped the 24-year-old card a flawless 70 in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
"I played well and was very happy with how I hit the ball from tee to green," said McIlroy, who missed the cut here last year in his first event with his new clubs, but ended a difficult 2013 with victory in the Australian Open in December.
"I hit it long and straight and just did not take advantage of some of the opportunities, especially on the last two holes. It definitely could have been a bit better but it's a solid start and I was pleased."
However, Sergio Garcia labelled the rough as "dangerous" after struggling to a four-over-par 76.
Garcia suffered a shoulder injury in the pre-tournament pro-am and exacerbated the problem hitting from the thick rough today, the Spaniard needing treatment from a European Tour physio for three holes.
The 34-year-old will receive further treatment before deciding whether to continue in the event and warned other players could suffer similar issues.
"The problem is they have cut it from green to tee and the ball nestles down," Garcia said. "Every single ball nestles down and you can't hit it 100 yards.
"I have tweaked a muscle and hitting from the rough is not helping. We will see how it feels tomorrow.
"Hopefully I am not the only one (who gets hurt), but unfortunately the way the course is set up it could happen to more people."
Asked if he felt the rough was dangerous, Garcia added: "I would say so."
Open champion Phil Mickelson revealed he had also hurt his back playing from the rough on the ninth, his final hole, the left-hander carding his only bogey of the day there after 17 pars. "I kind of hurt myself going after one," said Mickelson, who was unable to remember the last round he had completed without a single birdie.
"I twinged my back on the last hole. You have to be careful and maybe just wedge it out and not risk any injury.
"It's a world-class course and there's nothing unfair about it – it's just difficult. Tomorrow I will have to be very conservative off the tee just to put it in play."