Richard Green sets early pace in Qatar Masters
BY iseekgolf.com | European PGA Tour | 2005 Qatar Masters | Round One | 10 Mar 2005
Sweden’s Henrik Stenson and Australian Richard Green are setting the early pace in the Qatar Masters today.
The duo fired matching five-under-par 67s at the impressive Doha Golf Club to lead by one shot from Asian Tour regular Anthony Kang, Welshman David Park, New Zealander Stephen Scahill and Swede Niclas Fasth.
The US$1.5 million event is jointly sanctioned for the first time by the Asian Tour and European Tour and some of Asia’s leading players seized the opportunity to stamp their mark.
Thailand’s Thaworn Wiratchant fired a 69 to stay within striking distance of the joint leaders while China’s Zhang Lian-wei carded a 71, enduring the frustration of dropping two shots over his last four holes.
India’s Jeev Milkha Singh, who was in contention at last week’s Thailand Open, also returned a 71 but compatriot Jyoti Randhawa had a mixed day with three birdies, two bogeys and one double bogey for a 73.
World number three Ernie Els and Asian Tour number one Thongchai Jaidee were one over par through seven holes of their first round at press time.
The 28-year-old Stenson, a two-time winner in Europe, has been jetlagged this week but was wide awake on his outward nine with a run of three straight birdies from the 14th hole. He shot an eagle three at the par five first hole by finding the green with a three wood. Another birdie on the fifth saw him go to six under before a dropped shot on eighth.
“It’s hard to wake up the body in the morning. It was so early I had to hit a couple of extra shots on the range to get everything moving properly. It’s a bit tricky starting this early but it’s been worse. A few years ago, we had a sand storm and I was up at 4.30am for four days in a row to catch up. I shouldn’t complain too loudly,” said Stenson, winner of The Heritage last season.
Kang also felt like he was sleep-walking his way round the stunning Doha layout as a late bogey on his 17th hole of the day denied him the chance of earning a share of the clubhouse lead.
The Korean American has been on antibiotics after coming down with tonsillitis earlier in the week but still managed to shoot six birdies against two dropped shots. “It was kind of a blur for me. I’m not familiar with this course being here for the first time. I’ve felt dizzy being on antibiotics all week but decided against one this morning as I thought it would affect me. I’m like about 80 per cent right now,” said Kang, who has won twice on the Asian Tour but not since 2001.
Thaworn was delighted to shoot three-under and may have to change his flight home to Bangkok. The Thai, who has an unorthodox golf swing, does not like the Doha course which has been toughened with thick rough and some lengthened tees.
“This is a very good score for me. I don’t like the set up this week. My driving has been erratic this season, going left and right. I even booked my seat for Bangkok tomorrow but maybe I will have to cancel that.
“If you miss the fairway here, you’ll drop a shot. I missed it on two and nine and dropped shots there. I played here last year for the first time but struggled to miss the cut. It was very windy back then. I was a bit lucky this morning as it wasn’t too strong a wind when we played.”
Chinese ace Zhang was kicking himself for dropped shots over the closing stages of his first round. The five-time winner in Asia was cruising at three under before suffering bogeys on the fifth and ninth holes.
“I’m not happy with the way I’m playing. My irons and putting were average, sometimes, it’s good and sometimes it’s bad. I need to look for a coach to work at my swing as it’s an important year for me. My exemption on the European Tour ends this year and I hope to retain my rights by playing well in these co-sanctioned events.”
Source – Asian Tour