George Coetzee (Getty Images)
George Coetzee produced a brilliant eight under par 64 as an amazing albatross on his first hole of the tournament helped Steve Webster claim a share of second place in the opening round of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
Webster holed his second shot to the par five tenth at Doha Golf Club from 254 yards, recording the second albatross of his career with the same club and the second on The European Tour in the space of three weeks.
Dutchman Joost Luiten made an albatross in the second round of the Volvo Golf Champions in Durban, coincidentally also on the tenth hole.
Webster, the first player ever to produce an albatross on the opening hole of a European Tour event, added five birdies and one bogey to card a seven under par 65 and share second place with South African Dawie van der Walt, whose compatriot Coetzee claimed the lead with a superb 64.
"It was 254 yards to the pin, slightly into the wind off the left," the Englishman said. "It was a five wood and I hit a great shot, obviously straight at it.
"Because I carry a big crowd following me, there were about two people behind the green and one of them started jumping up and pointing down and I didn't know if it had gone over the back into the rocks or in! I got up there and he started clapping and it was a dream start."
Webster, who used the same five wood for an albatross in the Open d’Italia in 2011, added: "I have never been three under through one before and you wonder is this my day or have I had all my luck on the first hole, but I played great after that.
"I was really consistent, gave myself a lot of chances and made a few putts and was probably a little disappointed with seven under to be honest. I probably should have finished nine or 10 under but it's a good start."
The 27 year old Coetzee has already impressed with three runner-up finishes on The European Tour, and is now seeking a first victory.
“I was quite lucky to get away with the shots I hit today, but another good putting display to put a nice number in,” he said, after a round that featured an eagle at the long tenth and a hat-trick of birdies to finish.
“I think I had 21 putts with a three putt, so that goes to show, I can hit the ball a little bit better.
“I'm busy working on stuff on my swing, so it's nice to shoot good numbers when you're busy working on stuff. But I can't wait for it to click because I might be unstoppable.”
Van der Walt, who won the Nelson Mandela Championship on home soil in December, had carded a flawless 65 containing five birdies and an eagle as he looked to bounce back from a disappointing finish in Abu Dhabi.
The 30 year old shot an opening 68 last week before fading to finish 71st and said: "I had a terrible week and looked like a blind squirrel, I couldn't do anything right. 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 (I) just (need to) keep the same mind set and do the same things."
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.
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.
Three Major Champions sit inside the top ten – all on five under par – and two of them finished with chip-ins to sign for rounds of 67.
Ernie Els holed from a bunker at the 18th and John Daly from the rough, while Paul Lawrie recorded an eagle of his own at the driveable par four 16th after holing a 50 foot putt.
Spain’s Rafa Cabrera-Bello, France’s François Calmels, England’s Ross Fisher and rookie Nacho Elvira were all round in 66 to share fourth place.