Quiros celebrates with opening round of 66

One of nine players as joint second, he was seven-under after only 11 holes but a bogey five took a little of the icing off his birthday cake.

Alvaro Quiros has been a fanatical follower of James Bond for most of his life. After "loving" the new Sherlock Holmes release, the Spaniard has found an alternative in the licence-to-thrill stakes. "Elementary" is the word the famous sleuth would have used had he witnessed Quiros celebrating his 26th birthday in magnificent fashion by shooting a brilliant opening round of 66 to set the early pace in the Abu Dhabi Championship.

Quiros, one of nine players on six-under par, had got it to seven-under after only 11 holes yesterday morning but a bogey five at the difficult 14th took a little of the icing off his birthday cake. Not that he was complaining. "I am very happy because this is a good score," he said. "I've made some changes in the winter time and it looks like they are working." Most of his close-season work has been with the driver which has been a formidable long-distance weapon for him on his travels.

Winning accolades for his length off the tee is fine but winning tournaments is the overriding aim for the young Iberian. "I don't know if the changes have made me longer but I'm certainly more consistent and it means I'm going to hit the same shots more often and maybe find more fairways." Quiros regards the three-week Desert Swing as the highlight of his year which is understandable considering his recent achievements in the Gulf.

A high profile hole-in-one here last year earned him a "lifetime" of complimentary stays at the Emirates Palace hotel in the capital and that was followed by a highly impressive victory in Doha the following week. That victory was the last of his five professional tournament wins. "I really look forward to these three weeks," he said. "We are guaranteed the right weather, all three golf courses are excellent and normally I'm in good shape."

Quiros was glad to get in an outstanding morning score because he knows that he will be among the afternoon starters from now on and expects to find the conditions less favourable. "I don't think you can expect anybody to maintain the level of six-under every day here because the rough here is quite thick and you tend to have to play a lay-up if you go into it," he said. "Depending on the wind, I would say 17 would be a good number to aim for.

"It would be enough to get you in the top three for sure." @Email:wjohnson@thenational.ae