Rory McIlroy leads after the first round using muscle power to steal an early season march on his main rivals for the trophy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in the middle east. Rory had been in the gym during his winter break working on his physique, he used that new power to wrestle his way around the par-72 course for a five under 67 that included seven birdies and two bogeys. His effort was three shots better than Tiger Woods and four ahead of Luke Donald, his two playing companions in what was the first round's big drawing card. It left Rory in a tie with Robert Karlsson, who also had a good day on the course. Rory said of his training program; "I've been working hard in the gym, which has been good. I really started working hard last year and I really got into it and really started to enjoy it. "I feel like I've got a lot stronger and it's definitely helped my golf as well. Basically every day since the start of the year I've been in there." Tiger commented about his round and the start of his campaign to get back into the top ten; "Hit the ball well all day today. I just had a hard time reading the greens out there, the greens were pretty grainy and I just had a hard time getting a feel for it. Towards the end I hit some pretty good putts, but overall I got fooled a lot on my reads." Luke Donald enjoyed his game and his playing partners;
"It was a lot of fun, I think between us we hit a lot of solid shots today. Tiger and I didn't take as many opportunities on the greens. Rory played some nice golf too. It was a great threesome to be part of."
Highlight of the day was Sergio Garcia's seven-iron ace from 193 yards at the 12th en route to a 71.