Dubai: Jeev Milkha Singh making his 14th appearance at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic shot a superb bogey-free five-under 67 that put him inside the top-10 on the opening day of the last event on Middle East Swing of the European Tour on Thursday. (Agencies)
Jeev, whose best in the tournament has been a tied sixth place in 2001, was lying tied tenth on a day suited for low scoring.
Compatriot SSP Chowrasia made a birdie-birdie finish to carded a two-under 70 and was lying tied 25th on a day, which saw almost no wind at the Emirates Golf Club .
Taking advantage of ideal golfing conditions Spain's Rafael Cabrera-Bello took a two shot lead. Cabrera-Bello, who has shot a 60 in the past came back with a 63 on Thursday.
At one stage he had nine birdies in his first 11 holes and needed four more in the remaining seven to reach 59. But he parred the remaining seven for a bogey-free 63.
Rory McIlroy even par for front nine, shot six birdies on back nine to zoom to tied fourth at 66 with five others.
Jeev opened with two birdies and then parred all the way till 10th, which he again birdied. Two more followed on 13th and 15th and it made for a good day's work, though he missed few other birdie chances.
Chowrasia, who went through a tough 2011 when he won the Avantha Masters but missed most of the cuts after that, shot 70 with four birdies and two bogeys.
He bogeyed the sixth, got back the shot on eighth with a birdie. Then he birdied 10th and bogeyed the 13th to stay at even par. Then he birdied the last two for a good finish.
"It was great. Anytime you have a bogey free 5-under, I think you take it, and I played really solid today, two birdies on the front nine and three birdies on the Back 9. Had a lot of birdie opportunities, and 5-under on the first day is a good score, and I'll take it," Jeev said.
On his play and recovery from injuries, Jeev added, "I've been playing well. I worked hard this winter. Last two years I've been suffering with an injury, but this winter I felt really good, worked a lot on my core, and it's stronger, so the back feels stronger, so instead of hitting 100 balls a day I was able to hit 200, so I think it's going to show as the year goes by."
"Over last year or two, I just tried to hang in there. I couldn't practice the amount I wanted to, but now I'm able to. So I think things are going to get better.
On course conditions, Jeev said, "It is there for the taking. The wind didn't pick up when we were out there, and the rough is not up as much as last year, but the greens are pure and there are tough pin positions out there today, so I think it's a great test of golf, and as every year this course is in excellent condition."
Cabrera-Bello admitted that the thought of scoring 59 crossed his mind but he told himself not to be foolish.
"Just for a second after the birdie on number two (his 11th hole) I tried to do the maths on what I needed for 59. Then I told myself to stop being foolish and don't be too greedy. Nothing wrong happened - there were some tough holes to come and I didn't drop a stroke," he said.
In joint second place were German Marcel Siem and Scotland's Scott Jamieson, with 65 each, while four players including Thomas Bjorn shot 66 each.
Siem was eight-under at the par-5 18th tee but his second flew right off target into the lake and he ran up a bogey six.
Lee Westwood posted a 69 and Paul Lawrie had a 71 after double-bogeying his final hole.
Dubai: Jeev Milkha Singh making his 14th appearance at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic shot a superb bogey-free five-under 67 that put him inside the top-10 on the opening day of the last event on Middle East Swing of the European Tour on Thursday.