Lee Westwood wants club checks

AS LEE Westwood, the European No 1, called for compulsory checks to be introduced following the changes to the rules regarding grooves on golf clubs, the headache players are suffering due to the issue has been highlighted by Scotland's David Drysdale.

The new requirements came into force for players for the first time in Abu Dhabi last week, and outlaw "boxed" grooves in favour of a more "V" shape in an attempt to reduce the amount of spin.

The changes played a part in Westwood missing the cut on his first appearance of the season after being left in the dark over the legality of a new set of irons with testing only optional.

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He had a new set flown out to the Middle East and Drysdale, the top Scot in the Race to Dubai last year, has followed suit after being unhappy with the irons he used when missing the cut in both Johannesburg and Abu Dhabi.

"The manufacturers are not sure about the testing and the parameters so it's a semi-ridiculous situation. You have the fact that people have to almost check their own clubs to see if they are legal," said Westwood.

"I think it should be like Formula One. You get the three guys at the top of the leaderboard and test their clubs after they have played so you know who is playing within the rules and who is not."

After missing the cut in Abu Dhabi, Westwood has since had the new set tested. After they were found to be legal, the world No4 used them for the first time competitively during yesterday's first round at the Commercialbank Qatar Masters. He carded a four-under-par 68 to sit just a shot adrift of the leaders, Oliver Wilson and Bradley Dredge.

Westwood added: "If they are not going to test them after you play, what's the points of having the rules anyway? Some people could be playing with clubs that just by mistake are illegal. I just don't see the point in bringing that rule in, why leave it up to the individual?"

Drysdale, who dropped six shots in seven holes as he opened with a five-over 77 in Doha, had used the same set of clubs for nearly five years and has had little time to get used to the new set of Callaway Diablos that were waiting for him when he got back from South Africa just before Christmas.

Richie Ramsay got off to the best start among the nine Scots in the Doha field, the South African Open champion recovering from being two-over after six holes to sign for a two-under 70, good enough to sit in the top ten at the end of a tough opening day.

Marc Warren had 17 pars and one birdie in his 71, one better than Andrew Coltart, the 1998 Qatar Masters champion, and three less than Alastair Forsyth.

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Paul Lawrie, another former winner in Doha, was far from happy after a 75 left him alongside Stephen Gallacher, with Colin Montgomerie and Gary Orr a shot behind them.

"The course set-up this week is very disappointing with far too much rough, especially around the greens," said Lawrie. "It makes a lottery to get it up and down. No feel or touch is required – having a good short game is no advantage this week."