Australian Peter Lonard, who learned the game playing in hot windy conditions in New South Wales, felt right at home in Qatar as he mastered the local shamal to take a one stroke lead into the second round of the Qatar Masters at Doha Golf Club.
However, the use of wrap-around sunglasses has solved the problem, and Lonard took advantage of an early starting time, before the winds began to howl in earnest, and shot a five under par 67.
That was enough to secure a one shot lead over Dutchman Rolf Muntz and England’s David Lynn, who carded 68s, with Stephen Leaney, Markus Brier and Gary Orr on 70. In all, only a dozen players managed to break par on a day for shot improvisation.
Lonard, twice a runner-up on the European Tour, said: “I think this wind is pretty normal in Australia, although maybe different for Europe. Today it was hard and bouncy and blowy like in New South Wales.
“I like courses where par is important. I like it bouncy and hard. I have a pretty short swing and I like to knock the ball in low. The lower the better”.
He also praised the magnificently conditioned Doha course, in use for the third time and currently at the start of a brand new four year contract with the PGA European Tour. Lonard added: “The course is awesome…fantastic.”
Muntz, who finished second in the Scottish PGA Championship last year, finished strongly with four birdies in the last five holes to claim a share of second place with 26 year old Lynn, a Qualifying School graduate in 1999.
Lynn credited a putting lesson from 1997 Open champion Justin Leonard for his improved performance – but only because of the boldness of his younger brother and caddie/coach, Sid.
He said: “I played well in Dubai and was practising my putting afterwards. My head was buried in what I was doing but the next minute I heard him say: ‘Justin, could you come and give my brother a few tips on putting?’
“I thought he was talking to Justin Rose, then the next minute I looked up and there’s Leonard walking towards me! Justin was fine about it. He spoke about what he thought putting was all about and gave me a few hints.”
Armed with that information from one of the world’s great putters, Lynn proceeded to birdie two of the tough par threes on his way to a round of 68 – a powerful start to the tournament in spite of an early 4.15am wake-up call”.