Doha: Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal opened up a two-stroke lead after the first round at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters here at the lush green Doha Golf Club course on Thursday.
India’s Shubhankar Sharma, Denmark’s Marcus Helligkilde, Romain Langasque (France) and Adrian Meronk (Poland) were all two shots behind in a tie for second.
The highly-anticipated DP Tour event returned to its original home after the last two editions, which were held at the Education City Golf Club.
The competition is organised by Qatar Golf Association (QGA) with support from Qatar Olympic Committee, Doha Golf Club and long-term title sponsor, Commercial Bank.
“I’m very pleased. I played very solid. I missed only a couple of shots. I did an up and down there on the last green which I missed. I missed the cut last week but I played very solid golf today,” said the 38-year-old.
The tournament, which is celebrating its 25th year, features Thorbjorn Olesen, Ashun Wu and past champions Chris Wood, Jorge Campillo, Simon Rozner, Justin Harding and Eddie Pepperwell.
With the temperature soared to plus-30 degree celsius at Doha Golf Club, Larrazábal birdied his first three holes and had nine total for an 8-under 64. The 122nd-ranked player dropped only one shot, on the par-4 fifth hole.
The temperature was nice this morning but it started boiling,” he added. “It was 35 or 36 degrees, but I kept drinking a lot of water and making birdies.”
On the prevalent conditions at the course, Pablo said: “The conditions are great. When you come to a golf course that they’ve really changed, and they’ve not only changed it for us but for amateurs too. I’m sure the members here enjoy it a lot more and obviously there are a lot more pin positions for us. I think they did a great job and it’s looking magnificent.”
The tournament was first held in 1998 and since then it is considered Qatar’s annual ‘must-attend’ sporting and social event.
Defending champion Antoine Rozner, who won last year with a 60-foot putt on the last day at Education City Golf club, was tied eighth (-4) after the first day’s play.