DOHA, Qatar – Brett Rumford’s 6-under 66 recorded in calm early morning conditions on Friday proved too good for his rivals on the second day of the Qatar Masters.
The 34-year-old Australian reached 9 under to top the leaderboard before lunch and held on to that position throughout the afternoon when a light breeze made scoring tougher.
All his nearest rivals also had early start times with Bradley Dredge of Wales moving into outright second, a shot off the lead, with a 69.
Two Englishmen shared third place at 7 under. Oliver Wilson, who shared the first-day lead with Dredge, shot a 70 while Lee Westwood, the winner of last year’s European money list, had a 69.
The best the late starters had to offer was the 6 under total of Sweden’s Robert Karlsson, who shot 68 in his first round, but could only shoot a 70 on Friday.
Rumford, who failed to keep his playing card after a year on the PGA Tour in 2008, had no doubts why he was so successful in a round that contained seven birdies and one bogey.
“When the conditions are tough I actually enjoy it more,” said Rumford of the harsh course set-up with its long clinging rough and hard greens. “You have to stay very patient and because your expectations are low you do not have to beat yourself up when you play a bad a shot.”
Rumford has won three events on the European Tour, most recently the European Masters in Switzerland in 2007.
Lee Westwood of England blamed a lack of sleep for failing to follow up on his opening-round 68.
“The conditions were easier and 64 or 65 would have been a really good score,” Westwood said. “I had a wake up call at 4.50am and I am not a morning person. I just could not put it together with my swing on the golf course. But I am still in contention for the weekend.”
Wilson, who has yet to record his first European Tour victory after 12 second-place finishes, was slowed by failing to convert birdie chances at the Doha Golf Course.
“I just could not find the hole,” said the Englishman who made his Ryder Cup debut at Valhalla 17 months ago. “I was more than a little bit confused with the grain and the slopes. I was clueless and did not know what was going on.”
Kenny Perry, the 13th-ranked American playing his first European Tour event, just made the cut at two over par, but he needed an eagle at the 10th to keep his score at a level 72.
American Todd Hamilton, the 2004 British Open Champion who is attempting to resuscitate his career after losing his PGA playing rights, missed the cut in Doha after following his opening 78 with a 75.