Three-way tie in Doha

Oliver Wilson and Marcel Siem joined clubhouse leader Robert Karlsson in a tie for the lead on the opening day of the Commercialbank Qatar Masters.

Oliver Wilson and Marcel Siem joined clubhouse leader Robert Karlsson in a tie for the lead on the opening day of the Commercialbank Qatar Masters.

Former European number one Karlsson set the first day pace with a first round four-under-par 68 in testing windy conditions at Doha Golf Club to establish a two shot lead over Camilo Villegas and Sergio Garcia.

But with the blustery conditions easing slightly for the afternoon starters, Siem reached the turn in a flawless 36 despite playing the traditionally tougher front nine, while Wilson made his move with two gains in three holes at the start of his second circuit.

“The course is set up very difficult so I am happy with the round especially given the conditions,” said Karlsson.

“I hit all the greens and had a lot of long putts, but that’s what you have to when’s it’s windy so I am very happy.

“The weather makes it harder, not the course; it is set up very fair and it is in a great condition.”

Karlsson, starting on the back nine, made a slow start but kickstarted his round courtesy of a touch of fortune as an eight iron approach over the water at the sixth took a fortunate bounce and rolled in for an eagle two from 182 yards.

An eight foot birdie putt a hole later left Karlsson two behind early pacesetter Louis Oosthuizen, but while the South African fell apart on his second circuit, the Swede added two further birdies with his only blemish a three putt bogey at seven.

Colombian Villegas was disappointed to ship his only shot of the day on the final green, while world number 14 Garcia was pleased to card just two bogeys.

“I feel like I played decent, hit two or three terrible shots, but other than that it was a good day,” said the Spaniard.

“Obviously the course is playing very difficult with the wind and the firmness of the greens.”

European number one Lee Westwood, playing with a new set of irons this week after missing the cut in Abu Dhabi, made steady progress to two-under-par alongside Swedish duo Alexander Noren and Niclas Fasth, with defending champion Alvaro Quiros in the clubhouse at one under.

Desert expert Oosthuizen had set the early pace at five-under-par through nine, but last year’s runner up fell apart on the front nine undoing all his hard work and finished with an ugly double-bogey.

Irish duo Shane Lowry and Peter Lawrie, Oskar Henningsson, 1999 champion Andrew Coltart and Spaniard Ignacio Garrido joined Oosthuizen at level par with the remaining 46 morning starters over par.

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