Adri Arnaus and Justin Walters topped a congested leaderboard at Doha Golf Club as they carded first rounds of 67 at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
Arnaus, in his first full season on the European Tour after graduating from the European Challenge Tour, set the clubhouse target of five under par after he opened his round with a birdie on the tenth hole and then reached the turn four under par after a birdie on the 16th and an eagle on the 18th.
A bogey on the fifth hole cancelled out his third birdied of the day on the second, but he finished with a birdie on the ninth to take the lead after the morning session.
Walters was one of just two golfers to go bogey-free on the Peter Harradine-designed course. The South African also opened his round with a birdie and then made four gains in seven holes around the turn to join Arnaus at the top of the leaderboard.
Walters’ compatriots George Coetzee and Justin Harding are two of seven golfers who share third place on four under par and 19 golfers are tied for tenth place on three under par, including last week’s Oman Open winner Kurt Kitayama.
Adri Arnaus: ““It was a lot of fun, honestly. The wind picked up early, but we kept the ball in play most of the time and gave myself good looks. I was able to take advantage of those, so I’m pretty pleased. Compared to practice rounds, we had to be aware of major wind today. The lines stayed the same, so hitting good swings was good enough.
“It was so good being in contention last year, and then at the end being able to close it out at the Challenge Tour Grand Final gave me the belief that I could go on and do it on a bigger stage.”
Justin Walters: “Warming up today in the wind I was thinking anything under par would be a great score, so to go five under I’m ecstatic.
“I putted really well, certainly when I left myself a bit of work to do. Short game was really good today, I’ve done a lot of work on that. I haven’t done that in a while, even in calm conditions, so to do it in conditions like this is very welcome.
“I got in the right frame of mind around the turn. If you’re one or two under you feel as though it could go either way, but I made some solid birdies and that gave me a big boost.”
Nicolas Colsaerts: “I’m pretty satisfied, the conditions were pretty difficult. I thought my front nine was pretty difficult to deal with. I had a couple of decent up and downs and then had some roll on the back nine. I knew there would be some birdie chances and I was able to capitalize on them and turn in a decent score.”
George Coetzee: “I was slow out the blocks, but hit the ball pretty good, putted pretty well. It’s tricky with the wind and the dust. It’s the golf course that makes me play with sunglasses, so I’m glad I’ve got them.
“I like this golf course. It suits my eye. I enjoy playing it and I see the shots I’m playing more than I do on a lot of other tracks.”
Mike Lorenzo-Vera: “I’m very pleased because there was a lot of trouble out there today. You need to have really good control of the ball off the tee, so that was very interesting. We had it from the first hole to the last hole, really strong. The thing is, some holes are going to be massive, but we had front tees on those – so they were a little sweeter.”
Incomplete First Round Scores:
67 A Arnaus (Esp) , J Walters (RSA) ,
68 B Dredge (Wal) , H Leon (Chi) , J Harding (RSA) , N Colsaerts (Bel) , G Coetzee (RSA) , R Ramsay (Sco) , M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) ,
69 L Slattery (Eng) , E Van Rooyen (RSA) , I Cantero Gutierrez (Esp) , P Waring (Eng) , R Karlsson (Swe) , S Fernandez (Esp) , G Forrest (Sco) , E Molinari (Ita) , M Kawamura (Jpn) , N Cullen (Aus) , K Kitayama (USA) , M Kieffer (Ger) , Y Miyazato (Jpn) , R Fisher (Eng) , G Bhullar (Ind) , R Macintyre (Sco) , O Wilson (Eng) ,
70 D Lawson (Aus) , A Chesters (Eng) , T Pieters (Bel) , S Kjeldsen (Den) , A Sullivan (Eng) , B Evans (Eng) , J Winther (Den) , T Detry (Bel) , N Johansson (Swe) ,
71 A Otaegui (Esp) , B Stone (RSA) , T Jaidee (Tha) , J Smith (Eng) , J Kruyswijk (RSA) , N Elvira (Esp) , G Green (Mas) , D Horsey (Eng) , K Samooja (Fin) , G Moynihan (Irl) , K Broberg (Swe) , R Gouveia (Por) , A Cañizares (Esp) , H Tanihara (Jpn) , T Aiken (RSA) ,
72 M Warren (Sco) , D Drysdale (Sco) , M Schwab (Aut) , J Choi (Kor) , J Dantorp (Swe) , A Karlsson (Swe) , T Pulkkanen (Fin) , D Howell (Eng) , D Lipsky (USA) , M Southgate (Eng) , T Bjørn (Den) , B Wiesberger (Aut) , M Kinhult (Swe) , R Rock (Eng) , J Campillo (Esp) , R Jacquelin (Fra) , F Zanotti (Par) , S Soderberg (Swe) , J McLeod (Aus) , L Johnston (Sco) , A Saddier (Fra) , S Brazel (Aus) , C Sordet (Fra) , A Meronk (Pol) , D Gavins (Eng) , Z Lombard (RSA) , C Bezuidenhout (RSA) , M Korhonen (Fin) , S Gregory (Eng) ,
73 J Singh Brar (Eng) , S Chawrasia (Ind) , B Ritthammer (Ger) , D Law (Sco) , L Gagli (Ita) , S Jamieson (Sco) , J Hansen (Den) , A Björk (Swe) , K Koivu (Fin) , M Schmitt (Ger) , O Fisher (Eng) , G Fdez-Castaño (Esp) , P Figueiredo (Por) , J Van Zyl (RSA) , C Saxon (USA) , H Park (Kor) , H Porteous (RSA) , S Brown (Eng) , V Dubuisson (Fra) ,
74 J Lagergren (Swe) , C Paisley (Eng) , F Bergamaschi (Ita) , S Locke (Sco) , P Langfors (Swe) , B Hebert (Fra) , R Wattel (Fra) , A Rai (Eng) , P Larrazábal (Esp) , M Waite (Eng) ,
75 S Crocker (USA) , D Burmester (RSA) , M Lee (Aus) , N Lemke (Swe) , C Wood (Eng) , R McEvoy (Eng) , W Nienaber (am) (RSA) ,
76 K Reitan (Nor) , N Bertasio (Ita) , S Hend (Aus) , P Hanson (Swe) , K Johannessen (Nor) , A Pavan (Ita) , J Wang (Kor) , D Fichardt (RSA) , S Gallacher (Sco) , A Quiros (Esp) ,
77 E Kofstad (Nor) , A Wu (Chn) , T Lewis (Eng) , R Langasque (Fra) , D Borda (Esp) ,
78 V Perez (Fra) , G Migliozzi (Ita) , S Al Kaabi (am) (Qat) ,
79 R Paratore (Ita) , F Serghini (Mar) ,
80 M Toorop (Ned) , P Lawrie (Sco) ,
81 M Mathiesen (am) (Den) ,
82 M Pavon (Fra) ,
86 J Alkuwari (am) (Qat) ,
0 L Herbert (Aus) ,
0 L De Jager (RSA) ,
0 S Manley (Wal) ,
0 T Murray (Eng) ,