European Number One Lee Westwood resumed normal service on Monday ahead of this week’s Commercialbank Qatar Masters, presented by Dolphin Energy - thanks to a new set of irons.
After missing the cut in Abu Dhabi last week on his first appearance of the season, the World Number Four described his new set of irons, which were changed to comply with new groove regulations, as “fishing rods” and had a new set flown out to him.
And during an invitational pro-am in Dubai on Monday, Westwood carded an eight under par 63 to add to a seven under par effort during a test run towards the end of last year.
With those types of numbers in mind, caddie Billy Foster was given strict instructions to ensure the safe arrival of the clubs at Doha Golf Club.
While European Tour officials are not actively checking players’ clubs comply with the new regulations regarding grooves, Westwood nevertheless opted to have his new set checked, with the penalty for using illegal clubs being disqualification.
With the clubs given the all-clear, Westwood will turn his attention to proving last Friday’s six over par second round, which saw him miss the cut by five strokes, was a result of the new clubs combined with rustiness following a prolonged winter break.
World Number 18 Ross Fisher also made the trip to Dubai Creek at the start of the week, although in contrast to Westwood the Match Play champion was less than happy with his round.
“It wasn’t my best, but I am still shaking off a bit of rust,” Fisher said.
“But I will forget about that and I am in Doha this week looking to play well.”
Like many of his fellow professionals, Fisher, who finished well down the leaderboard last year despite a final-round 68, saw his winter practice schedule hit by snow, while he also spent his time off furnishing his new base in America.
Fisher failed to fire after winning the biggest title of his career in Spain last year, and will need an upturn in form to keep up with a stellar line-up this week.
“I have no idea why my numbers were high. I couldn’t put my finger on it. I played well, but it just wasn’t quite as good as it should have been,” he added.
“I have played in Doha a few times and I feel like it suits me, but my game is very rusty and I will just have to wait and see.”
Abu Dhabi champion Martin Kaymer, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson headline the field alongside Westwood and Fisher this week, with five of the world’s top ten and nine of the top 19 teeing off in Doha.