Swede Robert Karlsson and desert expert Louis Oosthuizen defied the elements to set a blistering pace on the opening morning of the Commercialbank Qatar Masters presented by Dolphin Energy.
South African Oosthuizen, who finished fifth in Abu Dhabi last week after claiming a runner-up spot at Doha Golf Club last year, reached the turn in blustery conditions in a bogey free five under par.
But two dropped shots on the way in - albeit separated by a birdie on the par three third - saw him joined on four under by Karlsson.
Last year Oosthuizen also finished runner-up in Abu Dhabi before claiming seventh at the Dubai Desert Classic.
Karlsson, like Oosthuizen starting on the back nine, made his move late after holing his second shot on the par four 15th over water for an eagle before a first birdie quickly followed to reach the turn in three under par.
The former European Number One then birdied the first to sit a shot ahead of Sergio Garcia.
With the unusually high wind set to increase further in the afternoon, defending champion Alvaro Quiros added back-to-back birdies to join Robert-Jan Derksen at two under par.
France’s Raphael Jacquelin had made a flying start with four consecutive birdies, but handed the gains straight back with a dire run of two bogeys and a double bogey to reach the turn in level par.
But given the conditions Jacquelin was fairing much better than the majority of the field with over half the morning starters over par.