Richard Green, one of a small but highly effective group of left handed professional golfers, goes into the final 36 holes of the Qatar Masters at Doha Golf Club determined to strike a blow for ‘lefties’ everywhere. The 34 year old Australian leads by one shot on 133, nine under par, after a second round of 68.
Green, who won the Dubai Desert Classic in 1997 and now has designs on a “Gulf Double” – albeit eight years apart - believes that his left handedness has been a handicap in terms of the equipment advances in recent years.
To combat the perceived problem, Green began researching and tinkering, hoping to source the best left handed equipment to suit his particular game – and the rewards are now coming sharply into focus for the affable golfer from Melbourne, who felt his career had “stagnated” following his Dubai victory.
He explained: “I had pretty serious expectations for myself but my game stagnated and I felt it was difficult to get the right equipment. I made a pretty strong decision to make sure I could use the right equipment which would help me to score and to get me where I want to be in the game.
“It was a matter of sacrificing a bit of money to get it right. When you go on the range you see bags of drivers for the players to try out, but they are all right handed. I am usually expected to use one! That doesn’t help so I have taken that part of my game in-house and got my own gear made. I prefer to do my research and testing back home so that it’s all sorted when I come to play on The European Tour.”
Green’s mixed bag of clubs, bearing the names of several manufacturers, did their job in the second round as he made six birdies and dropped two shots in his 68, to lead by a single stroke from a pair of Swedes in Pierre Fulke and Robert Karlsson and by two from Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant.
Karlsson, the joint course record holder with a 63 in the 2001 tournament, birdied two of the last three holes – as did Fulke – for a second round of 67. Fulke, the first round leader, added a 70 to his opening 66.
The feature of Karlsson’s round was his chipping. Twice the tall Swede chipped in, from a bunker for a par at the eighth and again on the 12th for a birdie. He said: “I struggled a bit on the front nine but got it together on the back nine”.
Tournament favourite, Ernie Els, improved by four shots on his opening round with a 69 to finish the day on 142, two under par, and seven behind Green. However the World Number Three still wore a puzzled expression after improving on his initial 73.
“I can’t put my finger on it” he said. “It is difficult to get the ball close. I am puzzled but we will figure it out. I am still swinging nicely and I’ve just got to try to hole some putts somehow. I am seven behind and need a real quality weekend and that’s what I am looking forward to.”