• Spaniard saw his lead wiped out early on but recovered from a slow start to hold top spot
It was truly a tale of two nines for Pablo Larrazabal yesterday. Four strokes off the pace at the turn, the overnight leader produced a brilliant back nine of 30 with an eagle on 10 also including three birdies and no bogeys to take a one-stroke lead into the third round at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters yesterday.
At the new-look Doha Golf Club, the European Tour veteran started the day with a front-nine 40 which contained a double bogey, three bogeys and a solitary birdie, but the Spaniard bounced back in style to stay in the lead.
Speaking about his day’s play, Larrazabal said: “It was a tough start. It was one of those days where you have to keep working and believe in the way you’ve been playing the last month or so and to keep fighting. I didn’t expect the drive on the first to go so far right. I started par-bogey-bogey and that wasn’t in the plans for Friday. I went bogey-double bogey on eight and nine to shoot 40 on the front nine but I said to (caddie) Raul, come on, yesterday we shot six under on the back and we know that we like the back.”
Since coming through the Qualifying School in 2007 and winning the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award the following season, Larrazabal has been one of the DP World Tour’s most consistent performers. “It is even harder mentally when you shoot 40 on the front nine and you’re two over after three. Mentally you have to recover, you have to believe in the shots you plan and the shots you hit. That’s what I did and it paid off. To shoot one under par after going four over, it proves that I am in a good mental spot. I am ready to make mistakes and recover from them,” the six-time DP World Tour winner said.
The Spaniard is closely followed by Chase Hanna of the United States, Poland’s Adrian Meronk and South African Wilco Nienaber, who all share the second place on eight-under par, with Romain Langasque of France a shot further back on seven-under par.
Meronk made five birdies and three bogeys in his 70, while Nienaber and Hanna carded no bogeys as they shot rounds of 68 and 66 respectively. Meronk, who is searching for his maiden DP World Tour title, was pleased with his day’s work.
“I got off to a good start, all was going well and then I slowed down a bit in the middle of the round but I got a good birdie on the last and overall the result is very satisfying. It was nice this morning, it wasn’t as hot but the wind picked up straight away so it was tricky, but I played solid,” the Polish said.
“We had to adapt today because the wind was from completely the other direction and much stronger. We changed strategies and did a good job. It wasn’t as good as yesterday but I think it’s playing tougher. Today was much harder than yesterday. The wind direction was completely different and much harder so I just had to adapt my strategy and play from different positions with different clubs but I felt like we did a good job today,” Meronk added.
Scotland’s Ewen Ferguson, English duo of Daniel Gavins and Matthew Jordan, and Austrian Lukas Nemecz share the sixth place on six-under par. Sweden’s Marcus Kinhult shot a seven-under par round of 65, the lowest round of the day, and is part of the group in a tie for the 10th spot at five-under par.
“It was good. It was solid from the first hole until the end. I hit it really good off the tee and holed some nice putts. I made the most of the day. It’s hard to lose the ball but the fairways are quite tight so it’s definitely good to be in the fairways and I managed that today. The course was different today, it was a complete wind change from yesterday and it made it a bit trickier but I played alright,” Kinhult said.
India’s Shubhankar Sharma, who was joint second after round one, slipped to a 73 yesterday but is well placed in tied 10th with two rounds to go. Sharma, who was bogey free on the first day, witnessed an up-and-down outing. Two-time DP World Tour winner Sharma was three-over at one stage with bogeys on eighth, 13th and 14th, but birdies on 15th and 16th helped him recover to some extent.
The cut fell at level par with 75 players qualifying for the final two rounds over the weekend.
LEADING SCORES AFTER SECOND ROUND
(GBR/IRL unless stated, Par 72)
135-Pablo Larrazabal (ESP) 64-71
136-Adrian Meronk (POL) 66-70, Chase Hanna (USA) 70-66, Wilco Nienaber (RSA) 68-68
137-Romain Langasque (FRA) 66-71
138-Daniel Gavins 71-67, Matthew Jordan 69-69, Ewen Ferguson 67-71, Lukas Nemecz (AUT) 71-67
139-Marcus Kinhult (SWE) 74-65, Thriston Lawrence (RSA) 70-69, Edoardo Molinari (ITA) 69-70, Shubhankar Sharma (IND) 66-73, Julien Brun (FRA) 70-69, Jens Dantorp (SWE) 68-71
140-Thorbjoern Olesen (DEN) 71-69, Paul Waring 69 71, Adrian Otaegui (ESP) 70-70, Wade Ormsby (AUS) 68-72, David Drysdale 72-68, Zander Lombard (RSA) 68-72, Ross McGowan 69-71, Robin Roussel (FRA) 71-69.
Chase Hanna of the USA tees off during the second round of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters at Doha Golf Club yesterday. PICTURES: Noushad Thekkayil