Fisher off to a flyer in Doha

The Englishman arrived in Doha on the back of an impressive tie for 12th in Abu Dhabi following a closing 67, and his confidence was clearly evident as he rattled in eight birdies and made only one mistake to earn a one-shot lead over Rafa Cabrera-Bello.

Stephen Gallacher and Justin Rose, making his 250th European Tour start, fared best of the European Ryder Cup stars on show as they opened with solid 68s, while defending champion Sergio Garcia returned a 69 on his 2015 debut.

But the big names were outshone by Fisher, who started at the 10th and birdied two of his first three holes before dropping his only shot of the day at the next.

Fisher bounced back with a run of three straight birdies to close out a back-nine 32, and he picked up further shots at the fourth, sixth and eighth holes to hit the top of a high-quality leaderboard.

???I played nice today, it was a little bit breezy and I felt like I had control of my golf ball,??? Fisher told Sports 4. ???I played good and gave myself lots of chances, so it???s a good round.

???It???s like anywhere, if I play well and hit the ball like I can do, you can take advantage of some of these courses.??The weather out here has been lovely today, we???ve got very lucky with the conditions. The first two days of practice it was blowing an absolute gale, so we were pretty lucky with what it produced today.

???I lost my card a couple of years ago and played well last year to get it back and make the Race to Dubai final. I think things are improving, my consistency is getting better, it???s just a matter of keeping on trying, keeping on sticking to the things that are doing me well at the moment and trying my best.???

Cabrera-Bello had set a testing early target in the clubhouse after keeping a bogey off his card in his 66 which featured a mid-round surge of four birdies in five holes ??? an excellent response to his missed cut in Abu Dhabi last week.

Two-time champion Paul Lawrie continued his promising early-season progress as he crafted a faultless 67 to join a host of players on five under, including English veteran Mark Foster and in-form South African Branden Grace.

Ernie Els birdied three of the first four holes and avoided any errors as he made it a nine-way share of third on five-under, while Gallacher and Rose found the cool, breezy conditions to their liking.

Gallacher, who will be bidding for a third consecutive Omega Dubai Desert Classic title next week, enjoyed three straight birdies in his 68, while Rose recovered from an early dropped shot with four birdies in six holes around the turn.

Garcia was one over for the day after an uncertain first six holes, but he recovered with his first birdie of 2015 at the seventh and added two more at nine and 13 before rolling in an assertive 12-foot putt for a closing four to get to three under.

But it was another erratic day for 2006 champion and world No 2 Henrik Stenson, who missed the halfway cut in Abu Dhabi after failing to make a single birdie on day one.

Stenson had to scramble to open with a two-under 70 but headed into the clubhouse disappointed with a bogey six at the last – he carded four birdies to go with a couple of dropped shots.