Paul Lawrie off to another good start in Qatar

Paul Lawrie waits to putt during the first round of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in Doha. Picture: Getty Images
Paul Lawrie waits to putt during the first round of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in Doha. Picture: Getty Images
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Paul Lawrie is off and running again at his happiest hunting ground on the European Tour and was joined by Stephen Gallacher, Marc Warren and David Drysdale in making an encouraging start in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.

On a low-scoring day at Doha Golf Club - 91 players broke par and the top 39 are separated by just three shots - two-time winner Lawrie opened with a four-under 68, as did his three compatriots.

Scott Jamieson was among a handful of Scots to get off to promising starts with a three-under 69 in the Qatar Masters. Picture: Getty Images

Scott Jamieson was among a handful of Scots to get off to promising starts with a three-under 69 in the Qatar Masters. Picture: Getty Images

“Nice to get off to a decent start,” wrote Lawrie, the champion in both 1999 and 2012 - he went on to make the Ryder Cup after both successes - on Twitter after making his score with a burst of four birdies on the trot around the turn.

The Aberdonian, who has played in all but two of the event’s 21 stagings, had spoken in the build up to this week’s tournament about how good memories can help bring the best out in people.

That seemed evident as he signed for six birdies in total on a day when the pace was set by English duo Eddie Pepperell and Aaron Rai along with Frenchman Gregory Havret, the 2007 Scottish Open champion.

It was the eighth time that Lawrie had opened with a round in the 60s in this event and 13th time he’d started by breaking par in it.

Taking up where he’d left off when recording a top-10 finish in Oman last weekend, Gallacher was five-under after 10 holes, then dropped two shots in quick succession before recovering to make a birdie-2 at the eighth - his 17th.

His best finish in this event was fourth back in 2002, though he was also eighth two years later then 12th in 2011, since when, of he course, he has claimed back-to-back wins in another of the European Tour’s desert events in Dubai.

Warren, who was runner-up in this tournament in 2015, was home in three-under 33 for his four-under start while Drysdale bagged five birdies, including three in five holes.

In his first outing since Dubai last month, Florida-based Scott Jamieson opened with a 69, which was on course to be better until he took the gloss of six birdies with a double-bogey at the par-4 15th.

Grant Forrest shot two-under after opening with a bogey-6 while Connor Syme also broke par with his 71, one better than both Bradley Neil and Richie Ramsay.

The latter started birdie-birdie before finding himself two-over with six to play but then made birdies at the 14th and 16th.

“Rusty today,” admitted Ramsay, who took a week’s break after Malaysia before he was then forced to sit out the event in Oman due to illness, on Twitter.

Clarke Lutton, who used to live in Oman and is making his third appearance in this event, had to settle for a three-over 75 - seven more than his opening effort when making the cut two years ago.

Pepperell made eight birdies as he carded his 65 to sit at the top of the leaderboard alongside Rai and Havret, the trio sitting a shot ahead of another former Scottish Open winner in Italy’s Edoardo Molinari, as well as Spaniard Alvaro Quiros, Englishman Oliver Fisher and Germany’s Marcel Schneider.

“I played well and surprised myself really out there,” Pepperell told Sky Sports after his round. “I made a change this week with personnel, just working on a couple of new things and I surprised myself with how well I managed to trust it and hit some quality tee shots as well.

“That’s the area I feel like I’ve been struggling with again a bit lately but the whole game felt good.

“It’s always tough to go out on to the golf course and take it out there. It’s been pretty nice on the range although yesterday was a bit of a grind, a bit of a struggle in the afternoon so I was in my room in my boxers doing some drills last night!

“I even prepared with a couple of glasses of red wine last night, maybe for the pain, but it was really good.”