Scotland’s Paul Lawrie added a five-under-par 67 to his opening two rounds of 68 and 65 to move five shots clear of the field in the Qatar Masters at the Doha Club.
Seven years ago he led the UAP Under 25s European Open by six shots and went on to win by eight shots. "I’ve been there before so I’ll try to do the same again tomorrow," he said.
Lawrie, who also won the 1996 Open Catalonia, has played some magnificent golf over the first three days with his first, and so far only, dropped shot coming at the 15th in the third round. Three birdies in the first four holes and another three coming back gave him a round of 67 for a 16-under-par total of 200, equalling the lowest 54-hole total on the European Tour this season.
"When I won the UAP Under-25 European Open I won the Scottish PGA the same year. The following year I finished sixth in the Open at Royal St Georges when I holed a three iron on the 17th to finish sixth behind Greg Norman.
"Everyone expected me to keep it going but things just didn’t happen. Hopefully I’ve laid that ghost to rest."
Lawrie’s closest challenger is Frenchman Jean Van de Velde whose round of 70 for an eleven under par total of 205 included arguably the shot of the week. Having landed in the middle of the desert on the 15th, Van de Velde found his ball sitting in a footprint. He then proceeded to hit a two-iron 190 yards over water to 50 feet and rolled in the putt.
"I’ve seen bigger leads lost, so I’ll keep plugging away," he said.
A shot further back lie the Scottish duo of Raymond Russell and Stephen Gallacher and England’s John Bickerton. Gallacher, who with Bickerton graduated from the Challenge Tour last season, had the chance to move into second place but, in attempting to go for an eagle on the last, pulled his second shot into the water and had to settle for a par five.