Wind has been a factor in almost all of the editions of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, and after a calm first day, it made its presence felt on Friday, especially in the second half.
However, before it swept around the beautiful Education City Golf Club, “lucky” Dane Jeff Winther put himself in a comfortable position as he carded five birdies and a single bogey to post a second successive 67 to get to eight under for a two-shot lead at halfway mark.
Morning starter (6.45am) Winther began the day three shots off the pace and remained at four under as he reached the turn after cancelling out his birdie at the second with a bogey on the sixth.
Later in the day the wind picked up significantly and none of the late starters were able to upstage Winther as they bore the brunt of the strong gusts.
“The wind is quite severe now. We were lucky. On the last three or four holes it was really starting to pick up. Playing around 15-20 yards further, you’ve got to be on your game,” Winther, who is targeting a maiden European Tour win, said.
The Dane, who finished third last season, was all praise for the course.
“I love coming back here. I have good memories from last year even though two guys knocked me out. I really like this course – it’s great to play and the conditions are fantastic. I haven’t played for three weeks, but coming out here is fantastic. The greens are very nice. I don’t want to jinx myself but I think they are easy to putt on. They are very true. The condition is the same as last year, it’s beautiful,” he said.
Finn Kalle Samooja and former champion Darren Fichardt of South Africa both joined Winther at the summit during their second rounds but were unable to stay there as they each made two late bogeys to fall into a five-way tie for second.
However, the 33-year-old Samooja felt he has played quite well today.
“It was tough. I think I played better than the score was — but a short putt on the ninth that I missed – the goal was to shoot under par and I didn’t quite accomplish that. The greens were quite slow today. It mainly affected the putting, not the wind so much. It was hard to get the pace right and they were quite longish so it was hard to get there – some of the short putts stayed on line. How the greens were was the biggest effect,” Samooja said.
Joining Samooja and Fichardt on six under were American Kurt Kitayama, Welshman Jamie Donaldson and England’s Jack Senior.
Donaldson secured the winning point for Europe in the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles but has not tasted victory since the Thailand Golf Championship on the Asian Tour in December 2015. Welshman, who had surgery on a wrist injury in late 2018, carded four birdies and one bogey.
“I played nicely, hit a lot of good shots and gave myself quite a lot of chances. I’m feeling pretty good. It took a while for the wrist operation to get back to normal. I started playing decent again in the middle of last year and I’ve been playing well recently. Feeling happy, just (need) more of the same tomorrow,” said the 45-year-old.
After the wind-hit day, Kitayama is hopeful of calmer conditions on the final day.
“It was playing really tough, the wind was really up – so it felt good though, getting under par. On the first hole, I chunked my approach and flew it into the bunker. I hit a good bunker shot and holed it, it was nice to get off that way – you’re looking at bogey really, so to come out with a birdie was a good start. The course is really good. It seems like, at least for me, the back nine has been more scoreable. Come Sunday we’ll see a lot of birdies and it could get real interesting,” Kitayama said.
Former champion Eddie Pepperell played an erratic second round. The Abingdon golfer made par this morning, but shot five birdies, two bogeys and a triple bogey at the par-four eighth. It left him two-under for the tournament. Starting from tenth, Pepperell picked up birdies at the 11th, 12th and 13th holes before running into trouble. Bogeys at the 17th and 18th saw the 30-year-old fall back to three-over for the tournament at the halfway stage. But he repeated yesterday's birdies at the second and third holes to move back up the leaderboard.
Play was suspended due to fading light with Joakim Lagergren, who is four under with three holes still to complete, one of 15 players who must return early today.

134-Jeff Winther (Den) 67 67
136-Kurt Kitayama (USA) 67 69, Kalle Samooja (Fin) 65 71, Jamie Donaldson (Wal) 68 68, Darren Fichardt (Rsa) 68 68, Jack Senior (Eng) 68 68
137-Brandon Stone (Rsa) 69 68, Joachim B. Hansen (Den) 66 71, Thomas Pieters (Bel) 68 69, Chris Paisley (Eng) 67 70, Nino Bertasio (Ita) 65 72, Fabrizio Zanotti (Pry) 67 70, Matthieu Pavon (Fra) 68 69, Garrick Higgo (Rsa) 66 71
138-Callum Shinkwin 70 68, Guido Migliozzi (Ita) 71 67, Richard McEvoy 65 73, Thomas Detry (Bel) 66 72, Scott Jamieson (Sco) 67 71, Julian Suri (USA) 70 68, Lorenzo Gagli (Ita) 68 70
139-Shaun Norris (Rsa) 69 70, David Law (Sco) 64 75, Shubhankar Sharma (Ind) 71 68, Hennie Du Plessis (Rsa) 65 74, Jazz Janewattananond (Tha) 69 70, Grant Forrest (Sco)71 68, Raphael Jacquelin (Fra) 70 69, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Esp) 69 70
140-Wilco Nienaber (Rsa) 69 71, John Catlin (USA) 70 70, Romain Langasque (Fra) 70 70, Eddie Pepperell (Eng) 69 71, Gaganjeet Bhullar (Ind) 67 73, Dale Whitnell (Eng) 68 72