Larrazabal, Oosthuizen share Masters lead in windy Qatar
28 Jan 2016 - 1:54
By Rizwan Rehmat
DOHA: Title favourites Pablo Larrazabal of Spain and Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa yesterday carded bogey-free rounds to share honours on the opening day of the $2.5m Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
Larrazabal and Oosthuizen finished the day’s proceedings with similar scores of seven under par 65 as windy conditions greeted the players at Doha Golf Club (DGC).
‘Belgian Bomber’ Nicolas Colsaerts, a Ryder Cup winner in 2012, Britain’s Andrew Johnston and Sweden’s Bjorn Akesson share the third spot on the leaderboard with a score of six under par 66.
Former champion Paul Lawrie of Scotland and Spain’s Rafa Cabrera-Bello were two among a group of eight golfers to share the sixth spot with five under par 67.
Former champion Ernie Els of South Africa finished the day at four under par 68, thanks largely to four birdies on holes 9, 14, 17 and 18.
Els is tied for 14th spot with nine other golfers including DGC player Clarke Lutton and Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee.
Defending champion Branden Grace of South Africa is one of nine players tied at 2 under par 70 along with former champions Sergio Garcia of Spain and compatriot Alvaro Quiros.
Grace stuttered with a couple of bogeys - on holes 6 and 7 - but the South African staged a steady if not spectacular recovery with four birdies - on holes 5, 10, 11 and 17.
Champion in 2014, Garcia also suffered bogeys on holes 13 and 17. Garcia, who missed the cut in his rookie appearance in 1999 at DGC, fired four birdies at a wind-swept DGC.
Larrabazal, the 2010 British Open champion, split his birdie dominance by firing four in the first nine holes after starting on the 10th hole and then carded another three at the 7,374-yard course.
“Very happy. I hit it very well, very solid round. I missed only one green on 13 with a great shot, so yeah, very happy,” Larrazabal said after his impressive round in windy conditions.
When reminded about how windy it was at DGC, Larrazabal said it didn’t bother him.
“You know, you cannot control the conditions you’re playing on, so you have to play like it is and enjoy it. Yeah, probably I’m a good player with the wind,” Larrazabal said.
The Spaniard added: “I like to play it down. I’m getting better without the wind, but I still play very well with the wind.”
“Yeah, very happy,” Larrazabal said when he was asked if he was satisfied with the day’s proceedings.
“As I said before, I hit it very well tee-to-green. 17 greens in regulation with these conditions is very good. I put myself in a lot of birdie chances and that was key.
“I mean, to have always a birdie putt is key in these conditions because you know with these kind of greens, you’re not going to hole too many, but I holed seven, so very good,” he said.
Oosthuizen, 33, also enjoyed a bogey-free round at DGC to tie for the second spot. The South African carded a total of seven birdies to lay foundation for what could be a good week in ‘windy’ Qatar.
Oosthuizen carded birdies on holes 1, 6, 9, 10, 11, 16 and 18 to complete his bogey-free round at DGC.
“Probably the bogey-free,” Oosthuizen said when asked to comment on the best part of his game yesterday.
“There were two occasions where I looked like I was going to make bogeys but (I) recovered well, and the rest I just played pretty solid,” Oosthuizen said.
Colsaerts, 33, yesterday said his renowned driving game that earned him his nickname was back to its fearsome best.
“When I drive it that well, it makes a round a lot easier,” Colsaerts said. “When it’s on like this, it’s very stress-free. If I’m as good as I was off the tee today, it makes a big difference to the rest of my game because I can come in with shorter irons into the greens,” Colsaerts said.
Lutton, making his debut on the European Tour, was delighted with his 4 under par 68.
“It was pretty good. I was a little bit nervous if I’m honest, first European Tour event. It was a good, solid round. Didn’t make too many mistakes and just stuck to my game plan really,” Lutton said.
Lutton said playing alongside Andrew McArthur was ‘relaxing’.
“Yeah, never met him before but nice to play with him. He’s a nice guy,” Lutton said. “Kind of kept me fairly relaxed out there,” he said.
In a rather forgetful performance, John Daly of the US carded 7 over par 79 yesterday. Daly, a player who grabs headlines for his eccentric ways on and off the course, carded bogeys on holes 1, 2, 5, 9 and 15.