SSI Err
Saturday, 04 February 2012
Paul Lawrie  (Getty Images)
Paul Lawrie (Getty Images)
Paul Lawrie is looking to bridge a 13-year gap as he goes into the final round of the Commercialbank Qatar Masters presented by Dolphin Energy with a one stroke lead.

Lawrie was the second winner of the title in 1999 - and followed it by becoming Open Champion at Carnoustie that July.

Now, in an event cut to 54 holes because of strong winds, the 43 year old Scot stands eight under par after a superb second round 67. That included a one stroke penalty on the tenth green after he dropped his ball on his marker - amazingly for the second week running.

"I'd never done it in my life - 20 years on Tour - but last week in Abu Dhabi I was lucky because my caddie saw it and said the marker never moved," he said.

"This time I wasn't sure and (senior referee) Andy McFee said I had to be 100 per cent sure.

"I wasn't watching and you guys didn't have it on the telecast, so you've got to take the penalty and kick on."

It meant a par five rather than birdie there, but he then picked up shots on the 11th, 16th and long 18th, where he chipped to five feet.

The added incentive for Lawrie, currently 78th in the Official World Golf Ranking, is that victory would lift him not only into the 64-man field for the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play in Arizona later this month, but also back into the game's top 50 and in with a great chance of earning a return to The Masters Tournament in April. He last played at Augusta in 2004.

Big-hitting Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts is in second place after a 68, with Swede Peter Hanson (69) and Argentina's Ricardo Gonzalez (67) a stroke further back.

“It was fun playing with Paul,” said Ryder Cup star Hanson. “I got off to a great start, four under par after seven, and then made some stupid mistakes around the turn.

“I lost a bit of rhythm, and was just trying to hang in there, and Paul was playing very well. 

“It's always nice to play with someone who is playing well and both at the top of the leaderboard, so it was nice to finish with those two birdies as well to get to six under mark.  I think if I would have stayed back to three or four under, it would be too far back.”

Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño and American John Daly had led the tournament after starting with 66 and 67 respectively, but Fernandez-Castaño did not have a single birdie in a 75 that dropped him to three under, while Daly's 73 left him in a nine-way tie for seventh and part of a group which also included Sergio Garcia.

Lee Westwood has five shots to make up like Fernandez-Castaño after a 70 and among those on the same three under mark are Ryder Cup Captain José María Olazábal and World Number Four Martin Kaymer.

Round of the day was a 65 from defending champion Thomas Björn. 

It followed a 79, however, and so the Dane still made the cut with only a stroke to spare on level par.

Graeme McDowell made it through right on the limit of one over, but those missing out on the final round included K J Choi - round in 78 after his opening 68 - Hunter Mahan, Paul McGinley, Colin Montgomerie, Robert Karlsson, Ross Fisher and Henrik Stenson.

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