Castano leads with a late charge
MIR BASIT HUSSAIN
DOHA THE dusty winds of Doha seems to have blown all predictions in the ongoing Commercialbank Qatar Masters Golf tournament off the mark.
Defending champion Thomas Bjorn is not even in the race as of now as he finished the day with a disappointing seven over par.
Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez Castano was the one who fought the winds and finished off the day in style with a brilliant score of 66.
During the course of the day it seemed that American golfer John Daly would finish as the leader with a five under par 67 as the winds became more strong making things difficult for others.
Despite the winds accompanied by dust and sand, Castano birdied four of the last five holes and called it a day at 66. Controversial John Daly, who returned to form, not only surprised the audiences, but himself too.
“I am pretty much shocked myself shooting five under. I had a five and half weeks off and really didn’t touch the clubs much. So this being the first tournament of the year, I am really happy,” said the 1995 British Open champion.
Daly said that masks could have been used to stop the dust particles but added it was one of the best rounds he has ever played. “It is weird. You just feel like you are eating a lot of sand. You can’t keep it from getting into your eyes and mouth. So I am just better off, keeping a cigarette in my mouth the whole time,” said a smiling Daly.
South Korea’s KJ Choi was just behind Daly and it seemed that he would hold on to the spot for the day. However, he had to share the honour with Aussie Jason Day who also finished with 68. The fourth spot also had to be shared not between two but five players English golfer Danny Willett, Belgian Nicholas Colsaerts, Paul Lawrie of Scotland, Peter Hanson of Sweden and England’s Richard Finch.
Nicholas Colsarts felt that under par three was not a bad score considering the winds. “It was a pretty decent round of golf considering the wind. Well, it could have been much better, actually. I missed a few chances. I putted once when it was just 120 meters from the flag after a huge drive,” said the Belgian golfer.
The winds also surprised many players, who played the first few holes amidst calm in the air. “There was no wind at all. And then all of a sudden we were on the 15th fairway and it was blowing a Hooley. It became very tough.” Englishman Richard Finch was also caught off guard. “It gradually built up. I was on the range warming up and a lot of us could not believe what was happening. Things had been predicted already but still it took us a little bit by surprise,” pointed out Finch.
In order to get used to the conditions, players are planning to hit the range first. “I am looking forward to work a little bit on the range with those longer clubs and see if I can fine tune a bit,” said Swedish player Peter Hanson.
Qatar’s Arab Games bronze medalist Ali Abdullah al Bishi had a disappointing day as he finished the day at 12 over par. Moreover, the winner of the Amateur Golf Championship, US’s Yoseph Dance also has to work a lot harder to become a professional golfer. He also finished at 12 over par.
Leading first round scores: (par-72 Doha Golf Club) 66 Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Spain) 67 John Daly (US) 68 KJ Choi (South Korea) Jason Day (Australia) 69 Nicolas Colsaerts (Belgium) Paul Lawrie (Britain) Peter Hanson (Sweden) Richard Finch (Britain) Danny Willett (Britain) 70 James Kingston (South Africa) Richard Green (Australia) Oliver Fisher (Britain) George Coetzee (South Africa) Anders Hansen (Denmark) 71 Michael Jonzon (Sweden) Simon Khan (Britain) Marcel Siem (Germany) Jose Maria Olazabal (Spain) Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (France) Francesco Molinari (Italy) Martin Kaymer (Germany) Martin Wiegele (Austria) Andrew Dodt (Australia) Jaco Van Zyl (South Africa) Ben Curtis (US) Soren Hansen (Denmark) Peter Lawrie (Ireland) Ricardo Gonzalez (Argentina) Graeme Storm (Britain) Michael Hoey (Britain) David Lynn (Britain) Pablo Larrazabal (Spain) Shaun Micheel (US) Gregory Havret (France) Lee Westwood (Britain) Carlos Del Moral (Spain)