News All Articles
I love this golf course - Ewen Ferguson on track in title defence

I love this golf course - Ewen Ferguson on track in title defence

Ewen Ferguson hailed a successful first day of his title defence as Scotland dominated the 2023 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters leaderboard.

A six-under-par on a weather-affected first day in Doha left Ferguson one shot off the lead, shared by compatriot Scott Jamieson and New Zealand's Daniel Hillier.

And with fellow Scots Robert MacIntyre and Stephen Gallacher alongside him, the Saltire was prominent on the first page of the tournament standings when play was halted.

Ferguson's title defence got off to a tricky start with a three-putt but he responded well and made four birdies in five holes from the 17th - taking inspiration from playing partner Pablo Larrazábal, with the Spaniard just a further shot back.

"I three-putted my first hole for a par and thought ‘here we go’," admitted Ferguson. 

"But I managed to keep my head and rolled in a few nice putts. I was playing with Pablo and the fact we were both playing quite well helped as we fed off each other.

"I love this golf course and, when it got quite windy towards the end, I enjoyed that and it was good fun. I think the course here suits a bit of wind.”

Along with that wind came a sandstorm, which initially delayed play for an hour early in the afternoon, and later a lightning storm which put paid to the opening day.

MacIntyre finished with back-to-back birdies, helped by an approach to six feet at the ninth.

The Ryder Cup winner is feeling the benefit of recent changes to his approach, turning to a new caddie in Mike Burrow ahead of last week's top-30 finish at the Estrella Damm N.A. Andalucía Masters, as well as using a new ball and putter.

He said: "Last week I played well, having obviously made some changes, and everything is looking decent.

"Me and Greg (Milne) had a great run again. Obviously I went back to the past and it worked for a wee while and it was good, but I just need that change again. I’ve also changed golf ball last week, which was a good time to do it as Mike didn’t know my old shots to the new shots. 

"I’d been struggling a wee bit with the putting leading up to the Ryder Cup and didn’t putt my best at the Ryder Cup. So I’ve changed my putter as well and also made a little technique change and the ball is rolling nicely."

Gallacher birdied three of the first four holes and turned in 31 before adding a sixth and final birdie at the 16th.

He said: "I hit every green, which was good. Only missed a couple of fairways. I gave myself lots of chances, that was the key. 

"It was quite calm to be honest, benign, the first five holes. Then it just whipped up, the wind, and when it gets up here it can be tricky because it’s right across the whole golf course. It’s quite hot and humid, but I’m delighted with the way I struck the ball today."

Read next