Oosthuizen leads the way again after flawless Doha round

Spain's Pablo Larrazabal.Spain's Pablo Larrazabal.
Spain's Pablo Larrazabal.
Pablo Larrazabal and Louis Oosthuizen shared the lead after the first round of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters as Oosthuizen again threatened to make his trademark flying start to the year.

Both players carded seven birdies and no bogeys in flawless rounds at Doha Golf Club, with 36 players breaking 70 despite the relatively cool and breezy conditions.

Sweden’s Bjorn Akesson threatened to overhaul the leaders when he raced to the turn in 30 and reached seven under after 11 holes, but a late bogey meant he had to settle for a share of third on six under with England’s Andrew Johnston and Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts.

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Two-time Qatar Masters winner Paul Lawrie was part of an eight-strong group on five under, with defending champion Branden Grace and 2014 winner Sergio Garcia on two under.

Oosthuizen has a remarkable record in his first event of the calendar year, winning the Africa Open in 2011 and 2012 and following that with consecutive victories in the Volvo Golf Champions in 2013 and 2014.

Injury meant the South African did not start his 2015 campaign until March, but his first event produced a sixth-placed finish in the WGC-Cadillac Championship and he went on to lose out in a play-off for the Open and finish joint second in the US Open.

The 33-year-old has not played competitively since finishing joint 11th in the Nedbank Golf Challenge on December 6, but felt refreshed after such a lengthy break and was showing no signs of rust on Wednesday.

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Starting on the back nine, Oosthuizen birdied his first two holes and also picked up shots on the 16th and 18th to reach the turn in 32, while birdies on the first, sixth and ninth saw him join Larrazabal at the top of the leaderboard. Colsaerts also did not drop a shot in his 66 to lie third, one shot ahead of England’s Tommy Fleetwood, Sweden’s Kristoffer Broberg, Spain’s Rafael Cabrera-Bello and South Africa’s George Coetzee.

Oosthuizen said: “There were two occasions where it looked like I was going to make bogey but recovered well and the rest was very solid, good ball-striking and I made one or two putts.

“I like playing in windy conditions. The whole day is going to stay like this, which is fair, but they are expecting some horrible winds later in the week and then it gets really difficult.”

Larrazabal claimed his fourth European Tour title in the BMW International Open last June, but suffered a back injury which kept him out for several weeks.

Harrogate’s John Parry and Sheffield’s Matthew Fitzpatrick both hit rounds of 75, a shot better than Malton’s Simon Dyson.

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