Fulke stays in front in Qatar Masters
BY iseekgolf.com | European PGA Tour | 2005 Qatar Masters | Round Two | 11 Mar 2005
Sweden’s Pierre Fulke battled to a two-under-par 70 to keep his overnight lead after the morning session of the second round at the Qatar Masters as South African star Ernie Els battled back into the frame on Friday.
Fulke shot five birdies on the card on another windswept day at Doha Golf Club to lead the US$1.5 million event on eight-under-par 136. The Qatar Masters is jointly sanctioned for the first time by the Asian Tour and European Tour.
French duo Raphael Jacquelin and Gregory Havret threw in their challenges, shooting 68 and 67 respectively while India’s Arjun Atwal, Asia’s number one in 2003, moved into contention with a 69, despite playing with a borrowed driver and a brand new putter after his two favourite clubs went missing before the start of his round.
Tournament favourite Els bounced back from a disappointing 73 in the first round, returning a 69 that included five birdies for a two-under aggregate, six off the pace heading into the weekend play. Asian Tour number one Thongchai Jaidee, playing alongside Els, also finished on two under for the event after a second straight 71.
Els, fresh off an unprecedented third victory in the Dubai Desert Classic, said the demanding Doha layout has kept him on the back foot so far. “I can’t really put my finger on it here. A lot of times, you hit what you think is a good shot and it finishes nowhere. I hit a lot of good shots but the ball scatters away from the hole. At least I played better,” said the man nicknamed the “Big Easy”.
The world number three is presently six shots back but is confident of reeling in the leaders at the weekend in hope of back-to-back titles in the Middle East. “I can’t see the guys going very low on this course. I am six behind and need a really quality weekend and that’s what I’m looking forward to. At least I’m here for the weekend!” said Els, who has not missed a cut on the European Tour in the last six years.
Asia’s challenge was carried by Atwal, who had an startling start to his day. At the range for his warm-up, he realised his driver and putter were missing from his bag. He hurriedly borrowed a different make driver from compatriot Amandeep Johl and managed to buy the same putter from the club’s pro-shop before going on to shoot a fine 69 which put him three off the pace.
“It’s strange huh? It’s never happened to me before. We went to the range and we didn’t check our clubs. We started warming up and I said ’where’s the driver and my caddie said there isn’t a driver’. So I borrowed Amandeep’s but I didn’t like it at all as the shaft was a bit weak for me. I started with a snap hook and I hooked it every time I hit it. I used my three wood most of the day,” said Atwal, who has won two European Tour-sanctioned events in his career.
“If I get a decent driver, I have a chance. I’m going to ask a few guys around if they have the same type or a stronger shaft,” said the Indian star.
Thongchai had a strong outward nine, turning in 33 with four birdies against a dropped shot but was blown off course on the inward journey with three bogeys against a birdie on his last hole, the par five ninth.
“The wind was changing and I misjudged some shots coming in. But I was happy with my overall play. I only missed two fairways and four greens in these tough conditions and I’m only six back with two rounds to go.”
Source – Asian Tour