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."
|Golden Knights GM on Stanley Cup Finals berth: I don´t know how we did it|
|I did a ´s*** job´ defending LeBron James – Morris|
|Dembele suffers sprained right ankle|
|We know Fellaini´s not going to renew with United – Mirabelli suggests Milan move|
|Cavs´ Lue not satisfied with just one win|
|They even whistled at Torres – Simeone backs Griezmann|
|I arrived as a boy, I leave as a man – Iniesta in emotional Barcelona farewell|
|Lingard: Wembley loss my worst feeling in football|
|Cahill: Conte uncertainty affecting Chelsea|
|Sarri has run out of time – Napoli chief De Laurentiis|
|Barca boss Valverde salutes departing Iniesta|
|I feel like I´ve been run over by a truck or had 15 pints - Crutchlow|
|Four sent off as Ajaccio win chaotic Le Havre play-off on penalties|
|Sweden win shoot-out to retain world title|
|De Vrij penalty was destiny for Inter - Icardi|
|PSG? Maybe one day - Pogba coy over long-term future at Manchester United|
|Messi wins fifth European Golden Shoe|
|Gattuso calls for more malice at Milan|
|Barcelona 1 Real Sociedad 0: Coutinho stunner lights up Iniesta´s farewell|
|Lazio 2 Inter 3: Spalletti´s men seal Champions League qualification with stunning comeback|
|Royals reach play-offs as Kings XI come up short|
|Nadal sees clearly after Rome rain is gone|
|Double whammy for Zverevs as Mischa bows out in Geneva|
|Atletico Madrid pay fitting tribute to tearful Torres|
|Hull FC claim derby spoils, Dragons off the bottom|
|Buzarnescu battles through as McHale impresses in Nuremberg|
|Neymar an artist who will not need special treatment - new PSG coach Tuchel|
|Atletico Madrid 2 Eibar 2: Torres bows out with a double|
|Napoli 2 Crotone 1: Milik and Callejon condemn visitors to the drop|
|Iniesta starts on Barcelona goodbye but Messi rested|
|Nadal rallies after rain break to dethrone Zverev in Rome|
|AC Milan 5 Fiorentina 1: Cutrone brace secures Europa League group stage spot|
|I think I made a fantastic decision - Garoppolo key to Sherman joining 49ers|
|FIFPro appeals to FIFA over Guerrero World Cup ban|
|Neymar made mistake joining PSG - Rivaldo|
|Simple for Simon as outstanding Yates extends Giro advantage|
|Ulster qualify for Champions Cup as Biggar makes history|
|Neymar tired of rumours and staying at PSG, president Al-Khelaifi claims|
|Beaten Halep calms injury concerns ahead of French Open|
|Van der Vaart´s Midtjylland nightmare set to end|
|It has been a crazy ride - Klopp proud of Liverpool ahead of Champions League showdown|
|Raonic pulls out of French Open|
|Liverpool youngster Alexander-Arnold not overwhelmed by England call-up|
|Torres captains Atletico Madrid on farewell|
|Otaegui claims second European Tour win at Belgian Knockout|
|Green: Warriors play best when we feel threatened|
|Daredevils dump out defending IPL champions Mumbai|
|Fan shows off Monk face tattoo on bottom|
|Bayern Munich chief Hoeness rules out spending spree|
|Fury to take on Albanian Seferi in Manchester next month|
|Mourinho mind games won´t distract from Manchester United´s paused progress|
|My motivation is intact - Ranieri open to offers following Nantes exit|
|Shields would probably have made All Blacks squad - Hansen|
|Willian fuels rift talk by hiding Conte with emojis in cup photo|
|Marquez extends lead at Le Mans as Dovizioso crashes again|
|Top-six mentality a boost to England´s World Cup hopes – Southgate|
|Dominant Svitolina retains in Rome as Halep sustains injury scare|
|I´d play for free! - Fifita desperate for State of Origin call-up|
|Plea satisfied with Nice exit as big changes beckon|
|Boateng open to leaving Bayern for move abroad|
|Napoli slam ´shameful and offensive´ Juventus celebrations|
|Red Star´s open-top bus goes up in flames|
|Klopp rejects Liverpool´s Champions League final underdogs tag|
|Root trusts batting form to ´click´ for England|
|Matic wants Man Utd to back Mourinho in transfer market|
|Walker out with eye socket fracture following Melbourne-Manly brawl|
|Don´t try it at home! - LeBron wows with game three passing|
|Dragons restore two-point lead, Sharks battle past Bulldogs|
|Any club would want Buffon, says PSG president|
|Villarreal renew Calleja contract after Europa League qualification|