A three-shot swing at the finish earned David Law, last year's ISPS Handa Vic Open winner, the bragging rights over Calum Hill and Grant Forrest in a rare all-Scottish group for a European Tour event.
In his biggest test so far since stepping up from the Challenge Tour last season, Hill stood on three-under, two ahead of Law, on the ninth tee in the first round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship only to see a wild hook end up in the water.
That led to a closing double-bogey 6 for the 24-year-old whereas Law signed off with a birdie after sending a knockdown 7-iron from 164 yards to around six feet from the hole.
In the end, Law signed for a two-under-par 70, one better than Hill, while Forrest had to settle for a 74 despite making the first birdie in the group at their opening hole at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
"It was nice to finish birdie-birdie after dropping a shot at the seventh," said Law after matching David Drysdale's effort earlier in the day as they led the way among eight Scots in the field for the Rolex Series event.
"It was good to play with the boys. We had a good laugh and, though it was serious enough as you'd expect, it was good to get a chat with them at the same time."
Helped by two wins, Hill followed in the footsteps of Law, Forrest, Bob MacIntyre and Liam Johnston in graduating from the Challenge Tour in the last two seasons.
"Calum is a good player," added Law. "We are lucky with with the players we've got at the moment and hopefully we can be out here for a long time and be contending to win tournaments."
Law missed the cut in this event 12 months ago after getting into the field late on, leaving him with little time to get himself prepared for one of the toughest tests on the circuit.
"It's not an easy golf course and you have to drive it well," said the two-time Scottish Amateur champion. "I was happy with that, especially after not playing well here last year.
"I knew I needed to play last week to get a bit sharper and these are the sort of things you learn out here after a year or so.
"I was happy with that today. I was a lot more in control of the golf ball than last week and I felt comfortable out there.
"At the last, I wanted to hit an 8-iron for my approach at the last, but my caddie over-ruled me and I hit a knockdown 7-iron from 164 yards."
Hill had made four birdies and one bogey before his disappointing finish, which left him sitting alongside Scott Jamieson and Richie Ramsay.
“It was not a bad day’s work considering what I turned up with here," said Hill. “I was struggling on the range and it’s been a bit dodgy for a little while.
“It was unbelievable at the last, just insane, as it almost hit my shin and straight into the water with no access to the green, so I had to lay up.
"But there was a bit of good there today while my short game and putting has been quite nice. As long as I keep it somewhere in there, I will score okay."
Hill revealed he's been working this week with Kingsfield-based David Burns, who coaches MacIntyre, last season's Rookie of the Year but sitting out this event due to a hand injury.
"Davy is helping me out while Bob is injured," said Hill. "His advice has been good for me to flush it for 12 holes today before I just kind of managed it coming in."
Ramsay recovered from being two-over after five holes to break par with a 71, with Stephen Gallacher alongside Forrest on 74 and Paul Lawrie finding it tough as could only manage a 78.