Cape Town — South Africa’s Justin Walters and Spain’s Adri Arnaus topped a congested leaderboard at Doha Golf Club as they carded first rounds of 67 at the Qatar Masters on Thursday.
Arnaus, in his first full season on the European Tour after graduating from the European Challenge Tour, set the clubhouse target of five under par after he opened his round with a birdie on the tenth hole and then reached the turn four under par after a birdie on the 16th and an eagle on the 18th.
A bogey on the fifth hole cancelled out his third birdied of the day on the second, but he finished with a birdie on the ninth to take the lead after the morning session.
Walters was one of just two golfers to go bogey-free on the Peter Harradine-designed course. The South African also opened his round with a birdie and then made four gains in seven holes around the turn to join Arnaus at the top of the leaderboard.
Walters’ compatriots George Coetzee and Justin Harding are two of seven golfers who share third place on four under par and 19 golfers are tied for tenth place on three under par, including last week’s Oman Open winner Kurt Kitayama.
“Warming up today in the wind I was thinking anything under par would be a great score, so to go five under I’m ecstatic,” Walters said.
“I putted really well, certainly when I left myself a bit of work to do. Short game was really good today, I’ve done a lot of work on that. I haven’t done that in a while, even in calm conditions, so to do it in conditions like this is very welcome.
“I got in the right frame of mind around the turn. If you’re one or two under you feel as though it could go either way, but I made some solid birdies and that gave me a big boost.”