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."
|Locadia benefiting from ´competitive´ Brighton - Hughton|
|Baby on board? Alba dedicates Barca goal to girlfriend|
|West Brom future ´not a decision for me´, says Pardew|
|Lions get De Bruin off to winning start|
|Paris Saint-Germain 5 Strasbourg 2: Cavani at the double in bounce-back win|
|Bar-celona! Messi posts unwanted record|
|Barca go 31 LaLiga games unbeaten to tie club record|
|Mourinho: I don´t know and I don´t care when Pogba returns|
|Brighton and Hove Albion 3 Coventry City 1: Locadia, Ulloa lead Seagulls to quarter-finals|
|EIbar 0 Barcelona 2: Suarez and Alba seal points as Orellana sees red|
|West Brom 1 Southampton 2: Rondon stunner in vain as Baggies drop out|
|Wolfsburg 1 Bayern Munich 2: Lewandowski spot-on after Robben´s penalty miss|
|I hope Cutrone finds a beautiful girlfriend so he can rest and make love - Gattuso|
|Wellens claims Ruta del Sol lead, Froome suffers puncture|
|Goffin forced to retire in Rotterdam following freak eye injury|
|Allegri denies Champions League ´obsession´ ahead of Turin derby|
|Barry, Evans start for West Brom after training camp incident|
|Bottas unaffected by ´Halo´ on simulation runs|
|Sheffield Wednesday 0 Swansea City 0: Carvalhal settles for replay on Hillsborough return|
|Management ´tiring´ but Zidane not ready to leave Madrid just yet|
|Thiago back for Bayern as Heynckes rests stars for Besiktas|
|Simeone urges Atletico fans to get behind Griezmann|
|Robben amazed by Guardiola´s impact at Manchester City|
|Three-way tie for lead in Oman as Pavon falls away|
|McIlroy frustrated by added scrutiny of playing with Woods|
|Morgan to take it slow with Stokes and backs Rashid|
|Pogba out of Man Utd´s Huddersfield trip with illness|
|A-League Review: Perth ´Panenka´ punished, 10-man Adelaide rescue late draw|
|Dragons and Rabbitohs see off Super League opponents|
|Robben targets two more years at the ´highest level´|
|Rashford and Herrera ´have a chance´ of making Sevilla trip|
|Mixed feelings for Tiger Woods after missed cut at Riviera|
|Emery defends PSG star Neymar after Madrid display|
|Nishikori stays hot in New York as Anderson awaits|
|Kevin Durant: Laura Ingraham´s ignorant comment was racist|
|Thiem sets up Monfils semi-final showdown|
|Mahrez saga now over, says Leicester boss Puel|
|Cantlay, McDowell and Saunders top at Riviera as Woods makes early exit|
|Tiger Woods misses cut at Genesis Open|
|Astros manager Hinch on Cole: He doesn´t need to be fixed|
|Alonso to return for Barca clash but Bakayoko set to miss first leg – Conte|
|Mourinho: Manchester United will sign a midfielder|
|Record-breaking Federer rises back to summit, Goffin to meet Dimitrov|
|Kobe Bryant says Lakers ´shouldn´t need´ to recruit free agents|
|Federer pokes fun at himself after becoming oldest world number one|
|Woods to play Honda Classic as comeback continues|
|Glasgow Warriors book finals berth as Zebre upset Connacht|
|Conte given selection headache ahead of Barcelona clash|
|Atkins at the double as Warrington see off Widnes|
|Giroud ´relieved´ to get first Chelsea goal|
|Sarries scrap for Sale success|
|Records tumble in Federer´s latest remarkable ascent to the top|
|Chelsea 4 Hull City 0: Giroud scores and Willian stars as Blues reach last eight|
|Leicester City 1 Sheffield United 0: Vardy header secures quarter-final spot|
|Agassi congratulates Federer after losing rankings record|
|Kvitova to face Wozniacki after Goerges pulls out|
|I cry often and I cry alone - Buffon benefits from his emotional side|
|This one means the most - emotional Federer revels in return to the top|
|Mason retirement ´heart-breaking´, says Cahill|
|After five years and three months, Roger Federer is back on top of the world|
|Federer downs Haase to become oldest world number one|
|Imperious Kohli targets eight or nine more years after latest heroics|
|Halep withdraws from Doha with foot injury, Wozniacki stays No.1|
|Evans, Barry and Livermore among West Brom players to apologise for ´curfew breach´|
|Mahrez starts for Leicester City in FA Cup|
|Wozniacki wins gripping Kerber contest to keep No.1 spot|
|Vermaelen backs Chelsea-linked Luis Enrique for Premier League job|
|Low succeeding Heynckes at Bayern in 2019 is Matthaus´ ´dream´|
|Bellerin criticises ArsenalFanTV: How can that be a fan?|
|Froome focused on the road amid ´hyped up´ doping controversy|