Dodd and Quiros early pacesetters

Golfers Stephen Dodd and Alvaro Quiros share the lead after the opening morning in the fifth Abu Dhabi Championship.

ABU DHABI // Alvaro Quiros, celebrating his 26th birthday, took an early share of the lead this morning at the fifth Abu Dhabi Championship at the National course. The Spaniard shot a superb six-under par 66 on the opening day of the annual event in the UAE capital to finish his round top of the leaderboard alongside the Welshman Stephen Dodd. The South African Louis Oosthuizen sits one stroke behind on five-under. Quiros, who finished tied for 26th place at last year's event, was seven-under after 11 holes courtesy of five successive birdies from the seventh. Bogeys on the 12th and 14th threatened to blemish his otherwise flawless card, but a further birdie on the par-3 15th before playing out to par saw him finish strongly ahead of tomorrow's second round.

Dodd, the world No 234 required a late surge, but took a surprise share of the top spot after a hat-trick of birdies on the final three holes, including a great display on the testing par-5 18th. The 43-year-old is celebrating his 20th year on the European Tour and appeared buoyed by the small group of Welsh supporters following him around. He has not claimed a title since a two-stroke victory at the Smurfit Kappa European Open in July 2006. Oosthuizen carded the only eagle of the day so far, putting home after three strokes on the par-5 eighth to go into the turn on three-under par 33. A further pair of birdies on the par-5 10th and 18th ensured the world No 90 finished high in contention for a sizeable share of the ?1.5million (Dh7.75m) prize purse.

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae