Wednesday, 27 January 2016
Louis Oosthuizen  (Getty Images)
Louis Oosthuizen (Getty Images)

Louis Oosthuizen lived up to his reputation as a fast starter as he took a share of the clubhouse lead on day one of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.

The South African has won his first event of the calendar year in four of the last five seasons and knows his way around Doha Golf Club having finished second here in 2009.

He spoke coming into the week of his desire to use the early stages of the season as a springboard to the Major Championships, and it was mission accomplished on Wednesday as he fired an unblemished 65 to sit alongside Pablo Larrazábal at seven under.

Conditions were not quite as windy as had been expected, although the wind was still a factor, and that showed in the scoring with 22 players in the clubhouse within four shots of the leaders.

Oosthuizen began his round on the tenth hole and opened birdie-birdie before picking up further shots on the 16th and 18th to turn in 32. Further gains followed on the first and sixth and when he put his approach on the ninth inside three feet, the 33 year old tapped in for a seventh birdie of the day.

There were no bogeys on Larrazábal's card either as the Spaniard looked for a second triumph in the Gulf states following his 2014 victory at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

Larrazábal also started with two birdies and, after a run of five straight pars, made two more on the eighth and ninth to turn in 32. He made it three in a row on the tenth and further birdies on the 12th and 16th ensured he enjoyed a successful start.

Big-hitting Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts joined Oosthuizen in taking advantage of all of the par fives in a 66 to sit a shot off the lead.

Colsaerts, one of the heroes of Europe's victory at The Ryder Cup in 2012, endured an indifferent season by his lofty standards in 2015 as he finished 97th on The Race to Dubai.

But he added to his birdies on the par five first, ninth, tenth and 18th holes with further gains on the sixth and 14th to get to six under.

Rafa Cabrera-Bello has won in this part of the world before at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in 2012 and he came home in 31 to sit a further shot back.

George Coetzee is on the comeback trail after breaking his ankle surfing last year but has a brilliant recent record here in the last three seasons with an aggregate score of 42 under.

He made that 47 on Wednesday with a 67 that included two bogeys, an achievement that was matched by last year's Road to Oman winner Ricardo Gouveia.

BMW Masters champion Kristoffer Broberg had a single bogey in his 67 while Tommy Fleetwood was also five under after an eagle on the 16th.

Callum Shinkwin, who finished 13th on The Challenge Tour last term to earn his playing privileges, was playing in just his tenth European Tour event but set the very early pace as he turned in 30 thanks to a run of four birdies from the 15th.

A double bogey on the second slowed his progress but he picked a shot back up on the fourth before bogeying the ninth to sit at four under. Playing partner Robert Rock was also four under alongside Dubai-based Scot Clarke Lutton. 

Thongchai Jaidee and 2005 champion Ernie Els, who hit 18 greens in regulation, played alongside Oosthuizen and they both also signed for 68s along with Trevor Immelman and Michael Hoey.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1GRACE, BrandenRSA18-14
T2CABRERA-BELLO, RafaESP18-12
T2OLESEN, ThorbjørnDEN18-12
T4DREDGE, BradleyWAL18-11
T4JOHNSTON, AndrewENG18-11
T4SLATTERY, LeeENG18-11

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