The European Tour’s perennial bridesmaid Oliver Wilson battled testing conditions to card a five under par 67 to share a one shot first round lead at the Commercialbank Qatar Masters presented by Dolphin Energy with Welshman Bradley Dredge.
Wilson, yet to post a maiden title despite making a Ryder Cup debut in 2008, dropped just one shot on his first circuit of Doha Golf Club despite blustery wind and deep rough leaving the majority of the field over par and just 24 in negative figures.
And after Race to Dubai winner Lee Westwood missed an eagle putt at the last which would have claimed the outright lead, Dredge completed a run of four birdies over his final five holes with a 20 foot putt to join Wilson at the top of the leaderboard.
“I’m obviously really pleased, but it was a strange one because it didn’t feel that hard. I got in and realised it had been playing tough, but I was disappointed I didn’t pick up more shots coming in. I had some good chances, but all in all, I’m happy,” said Wilson, who missed the cut in Abu Dhabi last week.
“My putting was better. I holed a few putts and overall, everything was good. I drove it well and hit my irons really good.”
Wilson’s figures are well documented - he has finished second nine times with two play-off defeats.
But after turning to technology to leave “no stone unturned” to discover the root of the problem, Wilson is confident he has turned the corner.
The 29 year old did have a chance to ensure the overnight lead at the last but missed a five foot birdie putt following a similar miss two holes earlier, having made his move up the leaderboard with a run of three birdies in four holes after the turn.
“I haven’t won so something needed to change and I did a lot of evaluating over Christmas with various thoughts and stats where I need to improve and implemented a plan,” added Wilson. “And I’m starting to find a lot of answers and part of it has been balance which I’ve worked hard on and suddenly it feels a lot easier to swing the club.
“I’m getting closer to the player I want to be and be able to, not so much master, but improve in other areas and be able to contend.”
Westwood eventually tapped home at the last for a fifth birdie of the day as the World Number Four resumed normal service after last week’s slip up in Abu Dhabi with a new set of irons helping him to a share of second alongside early pacesetter Robert Karlsson, Alexander Noren and Marcel Siem.
The 36 year old Worksop ace also dropped just one shot after a three putt bogey as he found the soft fairways and hard greens to his liking.
“I played very solid,” he said. “I made one decent putt from 25 feet, missed just two greens and two fairways, so I am picking up where I left off from last year.”
Australia’s Brett Rumford carded a 69 to claim seventh, with Sergio Garcia, Camilo Villegas, Ross Fisher and South Africa’s Charl Schwartzel, who has already posted two wins this season, in a group at two under par.