Graeme McDowell says he's "on a mission" in Dubai

The Antrim golfer shot 68 during today's opening round at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic

Graeme McDowell, Golf, Ireland, Omega Dubai Desert Classic

Image: Kamran Jebreili PA Wire/PA Images

Graeme McDowell says he's a man on a "slow-burning mission" this season, but got off to a lightning start this afternoon in the Dubai desert.

An opening round 68 sees the Antrim native just three strokes behind outright leader Sergio Garcia and he explained after his round what has helped him get off to such a fast start.

"Compared to last week I drove the ball like a different man," he said. "Today I hit a lot of fairways and gave myself a look at some flags with my irons.

"That was really the only thing that held me back last week at Qatar, the lack of hitting fairways. I solved that issue today.

"It was a decent day. I thought conditions were pretty favourable early on this morning, not much wind at all. The golf course was soft and receptive, greens were good.

"Starting on the back nine, you felt like you had to make some birdies. I felt like from the fifth tee to the ninth tee, it's a tough little stretch. But apart from that, you've really got some opportunities out there."

McDowell is well and truly back into the swing of things since the start of the new year and says his goals remain clear in his mind.

"I'm on a mission, but it's a slow-burning mission. It doesn't need to happen tomorrow. My goals this year are to be really hard-working and patient. We'll see what happens."

Earlier today, Tiger Woods left himself with a lot of work to do to make it to the weekend after shooting an opening round 77.