Oosthuizen and Larrazabal lead in Qatar


Louis Oosthuizen raised hopes that he can make yet another winning start to the year by taking a share of the lead with Pablo Larrazabal after the first round of the Qatar Masters. 

Oosthuizen clearly benefits from a break over the Christmas period, having won his first event of the year in four of the last five years.

The South African could improve that remarkable record this week after he carded a blemish-free seven under opening round of 65 at the Doha Golf Club on Wednesday. 

Oosthuizen was not affected by windy conditions as he started with back-to-back birdies after getting his round under way at the 10th and then picked up further shots at 16 and 18 before adding another three birdies.

"I like windy conditions," said Oosthuizen. "If it gets really strong, then it gets difficult.

"It's a lot of cross-wind shots. So there's a lot where you're not sure if it's in or a little down, so you need to have that wind map out and handy."

Larrazabal denied the 2010 Open champion the outright lead by also chalking up seven birdies and 11 pars in an encouraging start.

The Spaniard said: "I put myself in a lot of birdie chances and that was key. To always have a birdie putt is key in these conditions because you know with these kind of greens, you're not going to hole too many, but I holed seven, so very good."

Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts is one of three players just a shot off the lead, having made three birdies on the front nine and as many on the stretch.

Andrew Johnston and Bjorn Akesson are also six under, while two-time Qatar Masters champion Paul Lawrie is among eight players just two shots adrift of the leading duo.

Sergio Garica, a winner in Qatar two years ago, ended his first competitive round of the year on two under after bogeying two of the last six holes.

Haydn Porteous will be hoping to carry on where he left off on day two, having eagled 16 and 18 to go one under.