DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- Alejandro Canizares used three late birdies Thursday in taking the lead in the first round of the European Tour's DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
Canizares came in 54th in the Race to Dubai standings, narrowly making it into the 56-player event. He opened play Thursday with back-to-back birdies and was 3-under on the second nine en route to a 6-under-par 66.
Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Marcus Fraser, who each had 18th hole bogeys, are tied for second at 5-under while top-qualifier Henrik Stenson came in at 4-under along with Jamie Donaldson and Rafa Cabrera-Bello.
Thongchai Jaidee, Thorbjorn Olesen and Ian Poulter shot 3-under and are tied for seventh. Seven other players are 2-under. Defending champion Rory McIlroy is in a large group at 1-under, five strokes behind Canizares.
After the fast start, Canizares dropped a stroke at the fifth hole but then birdied the par-3 sixth. He closed the front side with a birdie. He pulled clear of the field with three birdies over Nos. 14-16 for a very early lead.
Fraser and Aphibarnrat were both 6-under going into the 620-yard, par-5 18th but both came away with bogeys and fell behind Canizares. Aphibarnrat was 5-under through 11 holes before a bogey at No. 12. He eagled the par-5 14th before the closing bogey.
Fraser bogeyed the third hole but ran off four straight birdies over Nos. 4-7. Two birdies in that streak and two of his three second-nine birdies came on par 3s.