ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Charl Schwartzel took a one-stroke lead Thursday at the Abu Dhabi Championship with an 8-under 64 in the first round.
The South African, who won last week's Joburg Open, had nine birdies — eight of them on the first 12 holes — to lead Padraig Harrington (65) by one.
U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell (66) survived a ruling scare on the final hole and finished with five straight birdies, sharing third place with Swedish pair Alexander Noren and Niclas Fasth.
The 26-year-old Schwartzel, who finished inside the top four in the four opening tournaments in South Africa, bogeyed the par-4 17th but then birdied the 18th.
Despite his …