DOHA, Qatar – South Africa’s Retief Goosen shot a 3-under-par 69 to take a one-shot lead Thursday in the first round of the Qatar Masters, in which several players couldn’t finish due to darkness.
With winds reaching 40 kilometers-per-hour (25 miles-per-hour) at the Doha Golf Club, the two-time U.S. Open champion managed five birdies on his 42nd birthday to finish one shot ahead of defending champion Robert Karlsson of Sweden, Goosen’s compatriot Darren Fitchardt and Richard Finch of England.
“It was tough to get close to the flags. It was windy and difficult,” Goosen said. “Putting wasn’t easy as you’re getting blown all over the place … (It was) a good opening score for a tough day. It was great.”
Karlsson, who won the European Tour’s season-ending Dubai World Championship and was fifth in Abu Dhabi last month, needed a closing par five to match Goosen but had to settle for a bogey.
“At least you knew where the wind was coming from, but it was gusting and it’s a long while since I’ve played in conditions like this,” Karlsson said.
The windy conditions seemed to unsettle some of the bigger names, with top-ranked Lee Westwood carding a 1-over-par 73 and Steve Stricker of the U.S. carding a 76. Only eight of the players to finish managed to break par.
“I really struggled,” said Westwood, who had four bogeys to go with three birdies. “I’m not hitting it right when it is windy like this. It’s hard to control the ball. But it was a decent score.”
The No. 2-ranked Martin Kaymer, who could overtake Westwood as the world’s top-ranked player in Doha, also struggled in the tough conditions, finishing with a 5-over 77.
Kaymer got into trouble on the 15th after attempting to play a shot that had ended up on the rocks and had three other bogeys to finish in a tie for 84th.
“It was difficult but I screwed up in the end. I made a double bogey on the 15th, and I didn’t hole any putts today,” Kaymer said. “I really struggled with those greens.”
Seven of the 132-player field did not finish their rounds, including Niclas Fasth of Sweden, who was 2-under after 15 holes. They will finish their rounds early Friday.
Six of the 132-player field did not finish their rounds, including Niclas Fasth of Sweden, who was 2-under after 15 holes. They will finish their rounds early Friday.