Darren Clarke carded a level par 72 on the opening day of the Dubai Open at the Els Club.
The 2011 Open Champion is six shots behind round one leader Kalem Richardson.
The 26-year-old, who has enjoyed two top-five finishes in his last five starts, posted one eagle and five birdies at the stunning to lead from Thai prospect Pavit Tangkamolprasert, Singapore’s Lam Chih Bing, Craig Hinton of England and MENA Tour regular Christopher Cannon of England, who returned matching 67s.
Clarke remains the front-runner for the European Ryder Cup captaincy and was recently backed for the role by Tiger Woods.
“Obviously it’s something I would love to do, but it’s not something you petition for,” said Clarke.
“My name has been put forward and I’m in the running for it. I would love to do it, but that’s up to the committee to decide.
“You know, with the best player in the world for a long time says it would be ‘a blast’, that’s high praise.
“I think it might cause a bit of a stir if I asked him to be one of the vice captains, so I think I’d better not.
“But Tiger’s a good friend. We’ve known each other, there’s a few other guys up for it over there.
“But whoever the European captain is going to Hazeltine, they have big footsteps to follow after what Paul McGinley achieved and how good a captain he was.
“Whomever The European Tour decide I’m sure will be a great captain.”
The 46-year-old maintained that it would be a huge honour to be named captain.
He added, “You’re asked to do it. It’s one of those sort of things.
“So until such times if I am lucky enough to be asked, then that would be great.
“But in the meantime, you know, I’m just going to keep on playing and see what happens.
“But certainly, as I’ve said all along, I’d love to do it but it’s not something you ask for. It’s something that the committee decide if you’re a viable candidate; and if so, they will make the decision on who they think is going to be best.”