A change in his off season routine has paid immediate dividends for Kiwi golfer Michael Campbell at the Abu Dhabi Championship.

Campbell's carded an opening round three under 69 to be tied for fifth, two shots behind the leaders Welshman Jamie Donaldson and England's Justin Rose.

Campbell said he didn't have his usual Christmas break.

"One thing I did this time around, which is very different, quite unusual was I played a lot over the Christmas period and decided to keep on going with just swinging the golf club really. It helped me a lot to get into the groove again very quickly here.


"It's always nice to shoot under par first time out this year. I think it's the first time I broke 70 here at this golf course so it's always nice to do that."

Early bogeys had Campbell even par at the turn before powering home on the back nine.

"Stupid errors at the start of my round, the first nine holes, making bogeys from nowhere really, but that's just rust. I just hung in there and knew I was playing well enough to shoot under par today and it was pretty tough conditions with some strong hole finishing."

Despite the errors, Campbell's thrilled with his opening.

"Best start so far for a while which is nice. It's nice that I kept the momentum going from last year."

Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods have both struggled with McIlroy slumping to a three over 75 and Woods an even par 72.