Jbe Kruger shot a decent 70 for the first round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship to closeday one three strokes shy of leaders Robert Karlsson and Rory McIlroy.
Kruger made four birdies, two of which came at par threes, at Abu Dhabi Golf Club on Thursday, which secured an early share of ninth for the 25-year-old.
The Schoeman Park Golf Club professional got off to a good start, making a good three at the par-four first hole. He went on to bogey the seventh and turned at level-par, looking docile through the first nine.
Kruger carded a further bogey at the 10th and the picture became bleaker for him. But the youngster, who finished fourth on the Asian TourÂs Order of Merit in 2011, was up for the challenge and quickly returned to level-par with a birdie at the par-three 12th.
He continued to succeed on the short holes and birdied the 15th before making his final birdie of the day at the 18th, which secured his share of ninth alongside the likes of Charl Schwartzel and Tiger Woods.
Schwartzel started the day with a disappointing bogey at the par-five second, but overcame the stumble by carding birdies at the third, fourth and sixth.
His back stretch contained a birdie at the 10th and a bogey at the 17th. Schwartzel signed for 70 and took his place alongside Kruger.
Leaders McIlroy and Karlsson both penciled in seven birdies and two bogeys to share the lead at five-under. Both also birdied the 18th, indicating that upsets are on the cards at the 518-metre, par-five closing hole.