Thursday, 07 March 2019
Adri Arnaus  (Getty Images)
Adri Arnaus (Getty Images)

Adri Arnaus and Justin Walters fired opening rounds of 67 to sit at the top of a congested leaderboard after day one of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.

Doha Golf Club is known for its windy conditions and it did not disappoint in round one, making scoring difficult throughout the day on the coast.

Spaniard Arnaus carded the best opening round of his rookie season to date to set the target at five under before South African Walters went bogey free in the afternoon to join him.

South African pair George Coetzee and Justin Harding, Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, Welshman Bradley Dredge, Chile's Hugo Leon, Frenchman Mike Lorenzo-Vera and Scotland's Richie Ramsay were then at four under, with three shots separating the top 37 players.

Arnaus only turned professional in 2017 but finished second on the European Challenge Tour Rankings last season and has made five of seven cuts so far this campaign.

“It was a lot of fun, honestly," he said. "The wind picked up early but we kept the ball in play most of the time and gave myself good looks. I was able to take advantage of those, so I’m pretty pleased.

“It was so good being in contention last year, and then at the end being able to close it off at the Challenge Tour Grand Final gave me the belief that I could go on and do it on a bigger stage."

Walters is looking for his first European Tour win in his 192nd appearance after graduating from the Challenge Tour in 2012 and twice coming through the Qualifying School since.

“Warming up today in the wind I was thinking anything under par would be a great score, so to go five under I’m ecstatic," he said.

“I wouldn’t want to play in three more days of this. Last week was one of the harder weeks I’ve had on Tour in a while. I came here today and thought ‘another day in the wind’, so it’s nice to get away with a really good round and,  as conditions improve, I hope to keep going the way I am."

Arnaus eagled the par five 18th to go with birdies on the tenth and 16th and, when he then birdied the second, he held the solo lead at five under.

Playing partner Leon also birdied the second to sit a shot off the lead after making gains on the 12th, 14th, 16th and 18th to go with a dropped shot on the 13th.

Harding made a birdie-birdie start but dropped a shot on the 12th before picking it back up on the next. A run of five pars would follow as he turned in 34 but he birdied the first and ninth - from eight feet - to set the target with a 68.

Coetzee started birdie-bogey but made three birdies in a row from the fifth and when he broke a run of ten pars thanks to a beautiful pitch on the last, there was a five way tie for the lead.

Arnaus dropped a shot on the fifth and missed a golden chance to retrieve it from eight feet on the eighth but he made no mistake on his last hole to edge back ahead on his own.

Leon dropped a shot on the seventh but also birdied the ninth to get back to four under.

In the afternoon, Walters birdied the tenth, 18th, second and third to get into contention and a long putt on the sixth put him into a share of the lead.

Playing partner Ramsay had shared the lead after he started eagle-birdie and recovered from a bogey on the 12th with gains on the 16th, 18th and first. Back to back bogeys from the seventh slipped him back but he recovered with a gain on the ninth.

Dredge had also shared the lead as he sandwiched a bogey on the 12th with birdies on the tenth, 11th and 16th before making three in a row from the 18th. He then dropped shots on the third and sixth before hitting back on the ninth.

Colsaerts turned in 36 with a bogey on the second and a birdie on the ninth but came home brilliantly, birdieing the 11th and 12th before holing a long putt on the 15th and driving up to the fringe on the par four next.

Lorenzo-Vera dropped a single shot on the eighth to go with birdies on the third, ninth, 12th, 16th and last.

India's Gaganjeet Bhullar had been at five under, while Scot Robert MacIntyre and England's Lee Slattery had both shared the lead before falling back to three under.

Ryder Cup star from 2010 Ross Fisher, 2008 European Number One Robert Karlsson and last week's winner Kurt Kitayama were also in the group of 18 players in the clubhouse two shots off the lead.

Australia's Lucas Herbert was also in that group but darkness brought an end to play as his group were playing their final hole and the trio will return to finish early on day two.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1HARDING, JustinRSA18-13
T2CHOI, JinhoKOR18-11
T2COETZEE, GeorgeRSA18-11
T2BEZUIDENHOUT, ChristiaanRSA18-11

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