Johnnie Walker Classic champion Anton Haig held a one-stroke lead over Englishmen Sam Walker and Paul Broadhurst as the big-hitting South African set the early pace in the opening round of the Qatar Masters this morning.
In blustery conditions at the Doha Golf Club, Haig was bogey-free through 12 holes of his opening round and sitting at the top of the leaderboard at four under par.
Walsall-born Broadhurst, 41, recovered from shipping a bogey six at the opening hole of his round and reeled off three birdies in four holes to reach the turn in a two-under-par 34 before quickly adding another at the start of the back nine.
Birmingham’s Walker made a slightly better start with a birdie at the second before also carding an early bogey a hole later to slip back to level par.
But the 28-year-old, who won the inaugural 2006 Scottish Challenge on the Challenge Tour, then reeled off three birdies in five holes to move on to three under through eight holes to keep pace with Haig.
Welshman Bradley Dredge joined Camberley’s Anthony Wall, Luke Donald and Scotland’s Marc Warren at two under par, with Order of Merit leader Lee Westwood and Ross McGowan in a group a further shot adrift alongside Henrik Stenson and Hong Kong Open champion Miguel Angel Jimenez.
Dredge, the 2006 European Masters champion, had carded four birdies in his opening 11 holes, while Wall, who played in the final group at last week’s Abu Dhabi Championship before a disastrous final round saw him plummet down the leaderboard, was flawless through 10 holes of his opening round.
Two-time Tour winner Donald, starting on the back nine, carded a solitary eagle at the par-four 16th to reach the turn in 34.
Martin Kaymer, who collected his maiden Tour victory in Abu Dhabi last week with a virtually faultless week’s work, did not enjoy the best start to his opening round and was two over par through seven holes alongside Hartlepool’s French Open champion Graeme Storm and compatriot Ross Fisher.