England's Lee Westwood carded seven birdies and a bogey on day one (Photo: Getty Images)
Lee Westwood raced out the blocks on day one of the European Tour's season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai with an opening round of 6-under 66.
The 43-year-old Englishman opened up a slender one-shot lead over big-hitting Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts and Frenchman Julien Quesne.
Westwood, who won this tournament in 2009 when going on to land his second Order of Merit title, is now hoping to end a two-year winless streak on the European Tour with a 24th victory this Sunday.
"This is as good as I've played for quite some time," said Westwood, who won on the Asian Tour in April 2015 but last won on the European Tour at the 2014 Malaysian Open.
"I've found a couple of keys in different parts of my game and I've been working on them hard. It all came together today.
Westwood would move into solo eighth in all-time European Tour wins with victory this week (Photo: Getty Images)
"A 66 is a good round of golf. It didn't seem that easy out there. Some days you feel like there's a lot of birdies out there but today I think was a pretty stiff test. They took the flags away a little bit. Didn't seem like many first day flags out there and I managed my game well.
"It's a golf course I've played well on in the past and I've had quite a few good results here other than the win and played pretty well in the desert. I've been looking forward to this week.
"2009 is certainly in the top two or three performances in my career. Maybe even best performance of my career, knowing that I needed to win to beat Rory in the Race to Dubai, and I did that by six and pretty much dominated the field over the weekend. It's right up there."
Henrik Stenson opened with a leve-par 72, while Danny Willett posted a 71 (Photo: Getty Images)
Spain's Sergio Garcia lies a further shot adrift with Italy's in-form Francesco Molinari and Holland's Joost Luiten.
Of those still in contention for the season-long Race to Dubai title, leader Henrik Stenson posted a level-par 72 to sit a shot behind second-placed Danny Willett and third-placed Alex Noren, who carded round of 71.
It was a day to forget for tournament favourite and defending champion Rory McIlroy, however, who carded a dismal 75 to lie 55th in the 60-man field.
WATCH: RORY PLAYS FROM WATER
Rory McIlroy puts his socks back on after finding water at 16 (Photo: Getty Images)