Otaegui ahead as players enjoy calm Doha conditions
February 24 2018 12:51 AM
Adrian Otaegui of Spain watches his tee-shot on the ninth hole during the second round of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters yesterday. PICTURE: Jayaram

It got crowded at the top after another calm day saw Young Spaniard Adrian Otaegui finish with a flourish and take a one-shot lead at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
The Spaniard birdied the last three holes to card a six-under 66 and move out in front on 11-under as golfers had a field day at Doha Golf Club yesterday.
Dozens of players notched up sub-par scores but five – the South African rookie Erik van Rooyen, Enganad’s Eddie Pepperell, former Ryder Cup player Scot Stephen Gallacher and three time European Tour winner Frenchman Gregory Havret - are hot on Otaegui’s heels at 10-under as the European Tour event looks set for a frantic weekend.
“I started nicely with a birdie at the first and then lots of pars, although I gave myself lots of chances. Then I had another birdie at the seventh, started well on the back nine at ten and then birdied 11 and dropped a shot at the 13th, but I played great after that and finished birdie-birdie-birdie so I’m happy with my round,” Otaegui said.
“I think it was similar out there today to the first round. There was no wind, it’s a low scoring course this year so I think there was no real difference in the first two days,” the 25-year-old golfer, who won his only European Tour title at the Paul Lawrie Match Play last year, said.
Pepperell, who shared the lead after his seven-under-par 65 on the first day, made a slow start to his second round by going out in one-over-par 37. But a super eagle three at the tenth kick-started a superb back nine, in which he birdied the 16th and 18th holes for the second successive day for a round of 69.
“I’m happy with that really. I played amazing tee to green the first 12 or 13 holes but holed nothing. Then I felt like my swing crept away from me a little at the end and I made the most of the finish, so I’ll take that to be honest,” the Englishman said.
Havret, who finished second at the 2010 US open, stayed bogey-free for the week, making birdies on the first, 12th and 16th.
“So far, so good, another clean sheet. It’s always good to start a tournament like this. I didn’t play as well as yesterday, I had a lot of putts and a few chips, I struggled to find as many fairways as yesterday and as soon as you are in the rough it’s tough because those greens are really rock hard and with a touch of breeze it’s not an easy thing playing from the rough,” the 41-year-old Frenchman said.
Gallacher was unblemished in his 66, the highlight being a 50-foot putt on the 13th to add to birdies on the first, fourth, ninth, 14th and 17th. South African George Coetzee also signed for a 66 to sit in a group at nine under that also included American Sean Crocker, England’s Oliver Fisher, German Sebastian Heisele and Spaniard Pablo Larrazabal. Crocker eagled the 16th and last in a spectacular end to his 68, while Heisele also picked up two shots on the 18th in matching his score. Fisher signed for a round of 69 in the morning, with Larraz?bal posting a 67 from the second wave.
Former Open champion Paul Lawrie, who is aiming for hat-trick of title in Doha, is tied 38. France’s Raphael Jacquelin made the third albatross on Tour in four weeks when holed a two-hybrid from 245 yards on the tenth to sit at eight under alongside countryman Mike Lorenzo-Vera, Spaniards Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Alvaro Quiros and England’s Ryan Evans.
The low scores were evident in the cut which, at four under, was two shots lower than the previous record for the event.
MENA Tour player Josh White of England took full advantage of his invite following his Qatar Open professional victory to make the cut on the mark. Pakistani amateur Ahmed Baig, who won Qatar Amateur Open last month, shot an impressive three under par 69 in the second round but missed the cut at one under for 36 holes. Also missing the cut was defending champion Jeunghun Wang and India’s Shubhankar, the only multiple winner on the European Tour this season, and 2011 champion Tomas Bjorn. Moroccan professional Ahmed Marjan shot a two round total of one over par while local and regional amateurs Ali Saleh al-Kaabi of Qatar shot eight over par, Shergo al-Kurdi of Jordan nine over par and Ali al-Shahrani of Qatar 13 over par for their respective two round scores.
The third round tee times begin at 06:55am with the last group of Pepperell, van Rooyen and Otaegui out at 11:20am.

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