Doha: Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal had an eagle and three birdies on the back nine as he overcame an unimpressive start on Friday at the 25th Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
“It was a tough start. I didn’t expect the drive on the first to go so far right,” said Larrazabal. “It is even harder mentally when you shoot 40 on the front nine and you’re two over after three.”
Chase Hanna (66), Wilco Nienaber (68) and Adrian Meronk (70) were all one shot behind in a tie for second.
The 122nd-ranked Larrazabal, seeking his seventh DP World Tour title, shot 1-under 71 at Doha Golf Club for a 36-hole total of 9-under 135 to take a one-shot lead into the weekend.
It was a roller coaster day for the Spaniard. In the morning, when he finished hole 9, he was +4 and had fallen to 20th place.
“It was a tough start. Par-bogey-bogey was not in the plans,” said Larrazabal, who added double bogey on the par-5 ninth to complete a front-nine 40 that left him four strokes back after starting the day two shots in front.
He bounced back with an eagle at the par-5 10th before three more birdies, including the 18th.
“Mentally, you have to recover. You have to believe in the shots you plan … that’s what I did and it paid off,” said the 38-year-old, who won Pecanwood Classic in South Africa two weeks ago.
American golfer Hanna felt right at home in the windy conditions.
“Growing up in Kansas, you get a lot of wind,” the 27-year-old said. “I certainly like the wind. I feel like my game suits the wind nicely. … My iron shots were good especially on the par 3s, just kept it pretty stress free.”
Romain Langasque (71) is two strokes off the lead. Marcus Kinhult of Sweden had the lowest round with 65.