Van der Walt grabs clubhouse lead

1/22/2014 10:43:40 AM
Dawie van der Walt  (Getty Images)
Dawie van der Walt (Getty Images)
Dawie van der Walt was the early leader as England's Steve Webster made an amazing start to the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters on Wednesday, holing his second shot of the tournament for an albatross.

Webster began his first round on the tenth hole at Doha Golf Club and saw his approach to the 548 yard par five disappear into the cup for the second albatross on The European Tour this season, Dutchman Joost Luiten having carded the first in the Volvo Golf Champions in Durban.

A par on the 11th was then followed by a birdie on the 12th and took Webster to four under par, three shots behind clubhouse leader van der Walt.

The South African, who won the Nelson Mandela Championship on home soil in December, had carded a flawless 65 containing five birdies and an eagle to lead by one shot from Spanish duo Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Nacho Elvira and France's François Calmels.

Van der Walt also made a strong start to last week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, before fading to finish 71st and admitted that disappointment had spurred him on.

“I had a terrible week and looked like a blind squirrel; I couldn't do anything right,” said the 30 year old. “Although my game didn't feel too bad, so playing well today, I'm not too surprised.

“I’ll just try and birdie every hole like I did today. I played solid and I forgot about last week, so just keep the same mind set and do the same things.”

Cabrera-Bello, who was fourth in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, and Elvira both carded six birdies and no bogeys while Calmels had a more adventurous 66 with an eagle on the tenth, six birdies and two bogeys.

European Number One Henrik Stenson quickly returned to form after a rare missed cut in Abu Dhabi, the Swede carding birdies at his last two holes to complete a four under 68.

Playing partner Jason Dufner, the US PGA Champion, returned a 70 but the third member of the marquee group, former World Number One Luke Donald, could only manage a 72 which featured a missed par putt from inside a foot on the fourth.

Play got under way shortly after 7am local time following a 30-minute fog delay, but Darren Clarke was forced to miss out on his 500th European Tour appearance after pulling out through injury.

Clarke, who has lost more than three stone since October in a bid to recapture his best form, was due to play alongside defending champion Chris Wood and Spain's Miguel Angel Jiménez in the first two rounds.

However, the 45 year old suffered a pulled muscle on Tuesday and was forced to withdraw, with Sweden's Jens Dantorp - who earnt his card through the Qualifying School last year - taking his place in the field.

Clarke won The Open Championship in 2011, but has not recorded a top ten finish on The European Tour since his triumph at Royal St George's.