DOHA, Qatar – South Africa’s Retief Goosen shot a 3-under 69 Thursday on his 42nd birthday to take a one-shot lead in the first round of the Qatar Masters.
With winds reaching 25 mph at the Doha Golf Club, Goosen managed five birdies to finish a shot ahead of defending champion Robert Karlsson of Sweden, South Africa’s Darren Fitchardt and England’s Richard Finch.
“It was tough to get close to the flags. It was windy and difficult,” Goosen said. “Putting wasn’t easy as you’re getting blown all over the place.”
The windy conditions seemed to unsettle some of the most prominent players, with top-ranked Lee Westwood shooting a 73 and American Steve Stricker a 76.
“I really struggled,” said Westwood, who had four bogeys and three birdies. “I’m not hitting it right when it is windy like this. It’s hard to control the ball. But it was a decent score.”
Second-ranked Martin Kaymer, who could overtake Westwood at this tournament, finished with a 77. He had a double-bogey on No. 15 after a shot ended up in the rocks and had three other bogeys to finish tied for 84th.
“It was difficult, but I screwed up in the end. I made a double-bogey on the 15th, and I didn’t hole any putts,” Kaymer said. “I really struggled with those greens.”
Seven golfers in the 132-player field did not finish because of darkness.