Both players had made the cut at last week's Qatar Masters, Cullen, in particular, doing very well in Doha when finishing 14th, one of his better finishes in a European Tour event.
Lawson, out in the first group of the day, appeared as if he might contend for the opening round lead when he raced to the turn in 30 after an eagle at the 9th and when he birdied the 11th he led.
Disaster would strike over the closing stretch, however, dropping seven shots in five holes and finishing with his round of 1 over par.
The lead is held by England's Jack Singh Brar and South African Louis De Jager who lead by one over India's Gagangeet Bhullar.
New Zealand's Josh Geary, who has only limited European Tour status, has taken advantage of one of the few starts available to him when recording a round of 67 to be tied for 6th.
Geary finished runner-up at the recent New Zealand Open and today he too would begin with a rush, an opening nine holes of 31 setting up his fine start.
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