Flying start for rusty ‘Goose’

RETIEF GOOSEN believes he still has some way to go before he is back to his best despite carding an impressive seven-under-par 65 in the opening round of the Commercialbank Qatar Masters.

The South African shot just one bogey yesterday, whilst carding eight birdies to move one shot ahead of Miguel Angel Jimenez and Nick O’Hern.

Goosen made a similarly good start to the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship last week when he finished six under, but a poor second round display severely dented his chances of winning the tournament.

And the 37-year-old is wary not to take his start at the Doha Golf Club for granted as he chases a first victory on the European Tour since 2005.

He explained: “It is always great to get off to a good start. Last week I did too and then I didn’t really do much after that, so hopefully this week I can keep it going.

“The course is in great shape and I got away with it today. I didn’t drive it that well and I missed seven fairways, I think. So I got it on to the greens particularly well.

“My game is not quite as good as it should be. Hopefully this year I can start getting some good tournaments under my belt again and get myself back into that top three or so in the world rankings.

“I still have a lot of golf left in me so I want to go through a few changes now.

“I feel by the time I start the Florida swing in a few weeks, hopefully the things I’m working on will be grooved in a little bit more and I can concentrate on just playing golf and not thinking too much about the swing.”

Jimenez had earlier completed his round as leader after carding the first eagle of the day on the way to a six-under-par 66.

On Sunday, the Spaniard came agonisingly close to winning in Abu Dhabi but a bogey on the 17th and his failure to get a birdie on the last meant he finished one shot behind Paul Casey.

And though the 43-year-old is well placed going into the second round, he refuses to contemplate just yet going one better in Doha.

He said: “The week has just begun. I will give it my best to be up there at the top but I am not the only one who is playing here.

“There are too many players and you never know what is going to happen.”

Defending champion, Henrik Stenson, made a solid start by carding a four-under-par 68. The Swede shot bogeys on his first two holes but improved to make six birdies and par the rest.

Nick Dougherty also enjoyed a good first round as he dropped just one shot and carded five birdies on the way to a four-under-par 68.

But it was not such a good day for Darren Clarke and Chris DiMarco as both players finished over par.

Clarke was unable to make a single birdie, instead carding bogeys on the eighth, 15th and 18th to finish three over par, while DiMarco did only slightly better as birdies on the fifth, 10th and 18th were undone by four bogeys.

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