Tiger Woods emerged from the fog to take the opening steps towards his first victory of the year in Dubai.
A two-hour delay kept the world number one waiting to begin his challenge for the Desert Classic, but when he did he went to the turn in a four under par 33.
It was not quite enough to lead - young Spaniard Jose Manuel Lara was six under with six holes to play.
Only by the standards he set last year could three top 10 finishes and nothing worse than 13th represent a poor start to the season and from the moment the 25-year-old birdied the long 13th - his fourth - he was off and running.
Having chipped to three feet there, Woods added a two at the 180-yard 15th, holed from 15 feet on the next and then reached the fringe of the green in two at the 547-yard 18th and two-putted.
Lara, a 23-year-old graduate from last season's "second division" Challenge Tour, also began on the back nine and covered it in 32 with birdies at the 10th, 11th, 14th, 17th and 18th.
When he added another at the long third Lara - no relation to Brian, of course - was literally hitting the Emirates course for six.
Woods' Danish playing partner Thomas Bjorn, who lives in the United Arab Emirates, also turned in 33 to share second place, while Colin Montgomerie was two under after nine and Ulsterman Darren Clarke one under.
Lee Westwood, starting his defence of the European Order of Merit title, was among the afternoon starters unlikely to finish their rounds before nightfall because of the hold-up.
The problems of being Woods - and of playing just behind him - were apparent the moment he and Montgomerie - in the next group - set off accompanied by most of the sell-out crowd of 10,500.
As Woods was about to play his second shot of the opening round a camera click was heard just yards from him and he did well to abort his swing.
Caddie Steve Williams gave the offending photographer a tongue-lashing after Woods had gathered himself again and pulled the shot into a greenside bunker.
That was no bad place to be on the 549-yard 10th, but his recovery only just made the fringe and after leaving his chip four feet short he was happy to walk off with a par.