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Canizares off to Hot Start in Dubai; Stenson Two Back


Alejandro Canizares fired a 6-under 66 to take the opening-round lead in the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai. The $8 million tournament, the season finale on the European Tour, began Thursday at Jumeirah Golf Estates.

Canizares, a 30-year-old from Madrid whose only win came in the 2006 Imperial Collection Russian Open, carded four birdies and a bogey on the front half and then tacked on three straight birdies on Nos. 14-16.

"I started pretty good," said Canizares. "A couple of birdies on the first couple of holes and, well, a hiccup mid-round but I got it back on the next hole after making a long putt.

"I played pretty solidly. I didn't do anything extraordinary but I holed some good putts . . . [I was] steady overall and I'm quite happy with the result . . . Overall, it was a very quiet round and it felt like it was easy."

Posting 67s were Thailand's Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Australia's Marcus Fraser, while another stroke back sit Race to Dubai points' leader Henrik Stenson of Sweden, Wales' Jamie Donaldson and Spaniard Rafa Cabrera-Bello.

Stenson, who sailed to victory in the PGA Tour's Tour Championship in Atlanta and the FedEx Cup, entered this week's event with the lead in the European Tour's Race to Dubai over 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose.

He's in good position with 54 holes to go to win the money-list title in Europe. "I am playing good and there is no real need to worry about the game out there, and it's one day down and three to go," said Stenson, who's been suffering pain in his right wrist the past few weeks.

"My wrist felt good today and it hasn't been bothering me that much. It's after the round that it stiffens up a bit and starts to swell up and look inflamed, but it feels all right at the moment."

Ian Poulter - fourth in the Race to Duba - carded a 69 to match Thorbjorn Oleson and Thongchai Jaidee, while Rose was among seven players opening with 70s at Jumeirah. Also shooting 70 was the winner in last week's Turkish Airlines Open, Victor Dubuisson of France.

Rose needed to make a long par putt on the par-4 18th to finish at 2-under on the day. "I feel as though I got a good score out of today by holing that putt on the last, because finishing bogey-bogey would have left an awful taste in the mouth," the Englishman said.

"So, all in all, I am satisfied as it is a start I can build on. But then in saying that, Henrik got off to another strong start and he seems to do that in all his tournaments recently."

Defending champion Rory McIlroy - winner of the 2012 Race to Dubai and PGA Tour money title - shot a 71. "I played better than the score suggested and turned a 67 into a 71," the Northern Irishman said after the round.

"I got off to a great start, was 3-under through four and playing really nicely and then got on a run of pars on the back nine. I had chances at the 10th, 14th, 15th and 16th and I'm coming off the course disappointed, but I know there is a good score out there."

For all the scoring, visit http://www.europeantour.com/europeantour/season=2013/tournamentid=2013090/leaderboard/index.html.