Rory McIlroy was satisfied with his first outing after an injury-enforced absence, having carded a bogey-free three-under 69 in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
McIlroy last played at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in October last year, where he finished tied 63rd. Falling to 11th in the world and failing to win a major since 2014, McIlroy knows this is a big year for his career.
Despite his long layoff from competitive golf, McIlroy appeared relatively comfortable on the course Thursday, playing alongside first-round co-leader and defending champion Tommy Fleetwood (-6) and world number one Dustin Johnson (Par).
"I sort of knew what I was expecting out there, but at the same time, you never really know," McIlroy said after his round. "First competitive round in over a hundred days, so it's a little bit different.
"But I did well. I stayed patient. I gave myself loads of chances and started the day with 11 straight pars, so I was trying to stay as patient as possible, so it was nice to birdie three of the last seven there and get in under 70."
Rust can become a factor after extended time off, but McIlroy said he felt comfortable mentally and physically during the first round.
"Really pleased, actually. I played very solid," McIlroy said. "I think only missed one or two greens, so gave myself plenty of chances.
"Drove the ball well. Iron play was pretty good. So I just need to keep doing that over the next three days and I should have a chance. I was proud of myself the way I hung in there."
Just three shots off the pace after the first round, McIlroy's goal to win remained intact.
"My expectation coming into this week was that I could win, but I think after the first day, seeing where my game's at and playing alongside two of the most in-form players in the world right now, I feel like I'm not that far away."
|Lukaku tipped for ´big things´ by United team-mate Matic|
|Kasatkina saves three match points to stun Muguruza|
|Emery hopes Classique can inspire Real Madrid comeback|
|I thought he was an actor! - Valverde dodges Arthur questions|
|Valverde hints at resting Messi, Suarez for Girona clash|
|Napoli sign free agent Milic|
|Barclay labels England ´massive favourites´ for Calcutta Cup|
|Johnson tells England: Don´t give Scotland ´scent of victory´|
|Zidane offers condolences after Basque police officer´s death|
|FA charge Guardiola over yellow ribbon protest|
|City have to lift titles - Guardiola focused on Wembley glory against Arsenal|
|Spalletti urges Inter to ´believe in our strength´ and end wretched run|
|Best unconcerned with Sexton fitness|
|Christensen a future Chelsea captain, says Conte|
|Fonte leaves West Ham for Dalian Yifang|
|Guardia Civil search Guardiola family´s plane|
|Unwell Neymar facing race to make Le Classique|
|Playing Chelsea means less and less every year, says Mourinho|
|Conte hopes Manchester United bench ´fantastic´ Pogba|
|Dembele ´a genius of football´ like Maradona and Ronaldinho, claims Pochettino|
|Otaegui surges into slender lead in Qatar|
|Villarreal suspend Semedo after attempted murder allegation|
|Jesus could return but Guardiola has doubts over Sterling|
|He took 10 seconds to be ready – Mourinho salutes professional Pogba|
|Alderweireld a doubt as Pochettino stays silent on transfer rumours|
|Conte dismisses Mourinho tension|
|Nothing is decided - Klopp urges against Liverpool complacency|
|Heynckes ´can´t imagine´ Bayern sanctioning Lewandowski sale|
|FIFA closes Neymar´s Barcelona bonus case|
|Bale still important to Real Madrid, Zidane insists|
|Heynckes plays down Robben´s frustration|
|Central Coast Mariners 1 Wellington Phoenix 0: Hosts end 11-match winless run|
|Arsenal handed tough Milan test in Europa League´s round of 16|
|Europa League: Last-16 draw in full|
|I am the lion of the jungle - Wilder ready to pounce on Ortiz|
|Vitolo apologises for sexist ´joke´ after Atletico win|
|Paletta joins Jiangsu Suning|
|Messi, Ronaldo and Neymar are the only superstars, says Pele|
|Rebels capitalise on Higginbotham red, Highlanders beat Blues in thriller|
|Arsenal have ´unfinished business´ in EFL Cup after 2011 loss - Wilshere|
|Srna given 17-month doping ban|
|Winter Olympics 2018: Larocque apologises for silver-medal snub|
|Arsenal boss Wenger backs Wilshere after Keane rant|
|Basque police express ´dismay´ at death of officer after fan violence|
|Jones was alarmed by England´s lack of fitness|
|Wembley hero Ramsey winning race to face Manchester City|
|McLaren launch new-look MCL33|
|EFL Cup final: Bravo and Ospina pitch to be heroes before stepping back into the shadows|
|The Breakdown: A statistical look at round three of the Six Nations|
|EFL Cup final: Wenger aiming for another glorious Wembley outing|
|Ligament damage but no surgery for Lynn|
|Wizards upstage new-look Cavs, Westbrook hits buzzer-beater|
|CONCACAF Champions League Review: Guadalajara poised for quarters, Red Bulls draw|
|Del Potro stunned by Tiafoe at Delray Beach Open|
|Bouchard lawyer satisfied after jury rules against USTA|
|´Enough is enough, we gotta take action´ - Panthers´ Luongo on gun control|
|Former NBA pair help Brazil stay perfect in World Cup qualifying|
|Keane: Wilshere is the most over-rated player on the planet|
|Monfils wins rain-interrupted clash against top seed Cilic|
|Earnhardt says short-track speed skating is ´NASCAR on ice´|
|My knee flared up – Wawrinka reveals reason for retirement|
|Stoger: Dortmund were lucky to survive Atalanta scare|
|Gattuso hopes to continue as AC Milan boss|
|Europa League Review: Arsenal survive scare, Dortmund battle past Atalanta|
|Noren, Simpson share Honda Classic lead after Tiger shoots 70|
|´Complacent´ Arsenal had no ideas, Wenger admits|
|Wilshere pulls no punches after Arsenal´s Ostersunds defeat|
|Batshuayi accuses Atalanta fans of racism|
|Mercedes not responsible for spoiling F1 spectacle, Wolff claims|
|Veteran kicker Vinatieri signs with Colts for further year|