Tommy Fleetwood claims he may never find himself with two more prestigious playing partners than Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, but it was the defending champion who set the pace in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on Thursday.
Fleetwood won in the United Arab Emirates 12 months ago to make a strong start to a season that ultimately saw him win the European Tour's Race to Dubai.
And there was more of the same from the 26-year-old Englishman as he opened his title defence in confident fashion, Fleetwood hitting every green in regulation on the way to carding a bogey-free six-under 66.
Four-time major champion McIlroy, making his first competitive appearance since ending his 2017 season prematurely in October to recover from a rib problem, shot a three-under 69 to sit tied 17th, having also avoided dropping a shot.
World number one Johnson, meanwhile, made four birdies and four bogeys on a frustrating outing to settle for an even-par 72 and a share of 69th.
"During my career, I'm going to struggle to find a better three-ball, really," Fleetwood was quoted as saying by the European Tour website.
"Doesn't matter how long I play. That might be the best one I get.
"All you can do is concentrate on your own game and that's what you always do, is you set out to play the best you can.
"These two, I don't know what I'll do in my career and nobody knows what the future holds, but I think these two might be going down in the history books, so it will be nice to tell them that I played these two in a three-ball."
Japan's Hideto Tanihara shares first place with Fleetwood, while Belgian Thomas Pieters is tied for third at five under alongside four other players, Ross Fisher and Bernd Wiesberger among them.
A shot further back is a nine-strong group including Pieters' 2016 European Ryder Cup team-mate Matthew Fitzpatrick and his popular fellow Englishman Andrew 'Beef' Johnston, who is seeking to climb back up the rankings after battling a shoulder injury last year.
24 de mayo 2018
|Ovechkin leads Capitals into Stanley Cup Finals|
|Federer: Serena may be the greatest of all-time|
|Copa Libertadores Review: Gremio top group, River and Flamengo draw|
|Celtics rebound with key game-five win over Cavs|
|Warriors duo Thompson, Iguodala questionable for game five|
|Suarez: Iniesta hard to replace at Barcelona|
|Slipper suspended after positive cocaine test|
|Cardinals´ Ozuna absent from line-up because he overslept|
|Ancelotti a ´real coup´ for Napoli as Insigne thanks Sarri|
|Johnston ´amazed´ to see Liverpool in Champions League final|
|Fearless Loftus-Cheek embraces England pressure|
|Butland shocked by Hart absence|
|It´s a football club – Klopp on choosing Liverpool over Man United|
|Emery appointed after secret vote, says Arsenal chief|
|Klopp used Sevilla loss to inspire European title tilt - Henderson|
|Lineker, Stoichkov, Zico - the stars who blazed a J-League trail for Iniesta|
|Golf not fame drives McIlroy|
23 de mayo 2018
|De Villiers tributes led by Du Plessis, Kallis and Tendulkar|
|Buttler ´maturity´ is just what England need, says Vaughan|
|Fit-again Wawrinka returns to winning ways|
|Toulouse take giant step towards Ligue 1 survival|
|Jets will not punish players for incurring anthem-related fines|
|F1 Raceweek: Hamilton and Bottas looking to build momentum - Monaco GP in numbers|
|Steelers´ Antonio Brown advises Le´Veon Bell to ´show up´|
|Stephens out in Nuremberg, Stosur wins Strasbourg final rematch|
|Clippers extend coach Rivers´ contract|
|Ancelotti ´thrilled´ by Serie A return with Napoli|
|Carlo´s Angels? Napoli boss poses for unusual photograph|
|Brady will attend Patriots mini-camp despite OTA absence - Kraft|
|World Cup hero, Champions League master - the best of Andres Iniesta|
|Heading to my new home - Iniesta drops massive Vissel Kobe hint|
|Neymar fitter than Brazil expected ahead of World Cup|
|Jardim, Jokanovic reject Chelsea speculation|
|Knight Riders rally dumps out Royals in IPL eliminator|
|Salah, Mane, Firmino trio could blow Madrid away, says Redknapp|
|Napoli appoint Ancelotti after Sarri departure|
|NFL stars must stand for national anthem if on field|
|Mascherano laments Romero injury blow|
|´Mr 360´ De Villiers retires after going full circle|
|Ronaldo already a Real Madrid legend like Di Stefano - Nacho|
|Pep or Pepe? The Spanish footsteps Emery could follow|
|Arizona, New Orleans land Super Bowls as NFL draft heads to Nashville|
|Sarri thanked by Napoli chief De Laurentiis amid Ancelotti reports|
|You never know! - Vettel and Hamilton joke about potential Ferrari link-up|
|It´s a silly question - Carrick insists Pogba has Man Utd future|
|Yates protects Giro lead as Viviani takes fourth stage win|
|Ozil one of Arsenal´s biggest talents - Emery|
|Fastest ODI hundred, 278 not out - De Villiers´ best knocks|
|Deschamps: Rabiot has made a huge mistake|
|Arsenal players can challenge for titles, Emery insists|
|Salah can seal Ballon d´Or with Champions League win - Riise|
|I want Real Madrid to lose Champions League final - Alba|
|Leverkusen sign goalkeeper Hradecky|
|Arsenal job a ´dream come true´ for Emery|
|De Villiers hailed as a ´colossus´ after quitting Proteas|
|Benitez expects Lascelles to stay amid reported Liverpool interest|
|Saha tells Martial: Stay and work for Manchester United future|
|Atletico Madrid defender Savic undergoes hip surgery|
|Bess to make Lord´s debut against Pakistan|
|Vissel Kobe announce news conference amid Iniesta speculation|
|Yan Dhanda leaves Liverpool for Swansea|
|Injured Chung out of French Open|
|I wish he´ll come to PSG - Motta wants Buffon reunion|
|Guardiola praises new Arsenal boss Emery|
|Defensive woes, travel sickness and Ozil´s role - Emery´s Arsenal to-do list|
|WATCH: Anthony Joshua serves up Stephen Curry assist|
|De Villiers announces international retirement|
|Salah not comparable to Ronaldo yet - Karius|
|Toure open to Manchester United switch & wants to play with Pogba|
|Rockets backed up fighting talk, says Harden|