Scotland’s David Law made full use of calmer conditions at the Education City Golf Club (ECGC) to produce a bogey-free round and claim the lead after the first day at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters on Thursday.
In the process, Law also equalled his lowest score on the European Tour with seven birdies in a flawless 64 to sit one stroke ahead of Italy’s Nino Bertasio, Hennie Du Plessis of South Africa, England’s Richard McEvoy and Kalle Samooja of Finland.
“It was a good score. I played really well. Conditions were quite easy but I was happy with my iron play and I holed some putts, which was nice,” said Law.
The 29-year-old Law had shot just one round in the 60s in three European Tour events in 2021 coming into this week but made a lightning quick start on Thursday. Afternoon starter Law followed up five birdies on the front side with two more on his homeward nine to equal his lowest European Tour round, and leapfrog early clubhouse leaders Samooja and McEvoy into top spot.
After holding a lengthy birdie putt at the first, the Scot made it three in a row with further gains at the second and third. Law’s fine form with the putter continued as he carded birdies at the seventh and eighth also.
“I’ve been guilty over the last few weeks when I’ve had decent rounds going but not finishing them off. I was semi-conscious of sticking with it and trying to go low. I was really happy with how I stuck to my routines, my processes and I came out of it with a good score,” Law said, who also shot 64 in the opening round of Betfred British Masters last year.
Law joined Samooja and McEvoy on six-under with a birdie putt from four feet at the 13th, before taking the outright lead when his 14 foot putt for birdie on the short 15th dropped, having first circled the hole. Law then kept his card clean with pars at the 16th, 17th and 18th.
“I’m looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow. It’ll be different. Although it was hot and muggy it was calm, it’s never normally like that here. Tomorrow will be a bit more like normal, a bit of wind and it’ll be testing. I’m looking forward to it,” the 2019 ISPS Handa Vic Open champion said.
Defending champion Jorge Campillo, who defeated Scotland’s David Drysdale in a play-off last year, was part of an 11-strong group on four-under par, with Drysdale returning a one-under 70.
“It felt good. I haven’t been playing very well at the start of the year, but I had good practice at home over the last few weeks. I came here and played solid, I played well in the Pro-Am on Thursday. I feel good about my game and played well today. It wasn’t great, but it was solid. I made a great putt on 18 and a few great putts coming in. The greens are perfect, they are very fast and rolling pretty good. If you make a good stroke, you can see the breaks and see a lot of putts. I thought the heat was fine. I’m used to this, I guess. I’d much rather play in hotter conditions than cold. I’ll hit a few putts and a few balls, try to go to bed early because tomorrow a 6:55 tee time is not going to be easy for me,” Campillo said.
Former champion Eddie Pepperell, who won the title in 2018 but was disqualified last year, birdied his first four holes before having to settle for a 69 to lie five shots off the lead.
On a day of low scoring, 74 players broke par and the final group of Darren Fichardt, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and Sebastian Heisele were three, two and one under respectively with one hole to complete today morning.
India’s Gangajeet Bhullar, SSP Chowrasia and Shubhankar Sharma carded 4-under, 1-under and par respectively.
Qatari golfers Ali al-Shahrani, Jaham al-Kuwari and Saleh al-Kaabi struggled during the opening round. Al-Kaabi finished with a two-over. Al-Kuwari was eight-over and Qatar Amateur Open champion Al-Shahrani carded 11 over.