While several players are eager to get new seasons started this week on the European Tour, few are more thrilled than Martin Kaymer to be doing so in Abu Dhabi.

Kaymer has 11 career European Tour victories, but three of them have come at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, where he won in 2008 and again in 2010-11. The German nearly added a fourth title two years ago, but surrendered a 10-shot lead during the final round en route to a T-3 finish.

Despite the collapse, this remains one of his happiest hunting grounds and Kaymer displayed that affinity with a 6-under 66 in the opening round to sit two shots behind Henrik Stenson. He carded eight birdies on the day, including three in a row on Nos. 7-9 to close out his round.

Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship: Articles, photos and videos

“The golf course for me doesn’t feel like I need to do a lot of special things in order to play well, because I usually putt well on those greens,” Kaymer told reporters. “It doesn’t feel like a hard-working day.”

Kaymer hasn’t won anywhere in the world since routing the field at the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst, but if ever there was a place for him to re-enter the winner’s circle, this might be it.

“I just like a lot of the tee shots,” he said. “They really suit my eye and, again, if you are making putts, that’s always for us professionals very, very important to see the ball going into the hole.”

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