Birdie blitz helps Lawrie grab lead at Qatar Masters

 29 Jan 2016 - 1:31

Birdie blitz helps Lawrie grab lead at Qatar Masters
Paul Lawrie (in black) and Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts (inset) in action  during the second day’s play at the $2.5m Qatar Masters at Doha Golf Club yesterday.


By Rizwan Rehmat
DOHA: A birdie blitz yesterday helped two-time champion Paul Lawrie of Scotland grab the lead with an impressive card of six under par 66 at the $2.5m Qatar Masters. 

Winner in 1999 and 2012, the Doha Golf Club (DGC) visitor fired six birdies to supplement his five under par 67 in round 1 for an overall card of 11 under par 133 at the halfway stage of the desert challenge. 
Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts finished a shot behind Lawrie after carding a 4 under par 68 for an overall score of 10 under par 134. 
The big-hitting Belgian birdied his last hole at nine.
England’s Andrew Johnston, Spain’s Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Frenchman Gregory Bourdy are tied for third place with overall scores of 9 under par 135. 
Johnston couldn’t match his six under par 66 in the first round as the Briton yesterday suffered a double bogey on hole 3 on way to a card of 3 under par 69. 
Cabrera-Bello remained steady yesterday with 4 under par 68 while Bourdy enjoyed a hole-in-one on 8 for his only eagle of the day. 
The Frenchman carded 4 under par to score an overall tally of 9 under par 135 after two rounds. 
Former champion and title favourite Sergia Garcia sneaked up on his rivals to be tied for sixth place with overall card of 8 under par 136. 
An eagle on hole 16 supplemented by four birdies helped Garcia - champion in 2014 - to close round two at six under par 66. 
England’s Tommy Fleetwood (69), Sweden’s Johan Carlsson (67), compatriot Pelle Edberg (66) and Denmark’s  Thorbjorn Olesen (69) are tied with Garcia at 8 under par 136.
Overnight leader Pablo Larrazabal (72) of Spain endured a horrible day with four bogeys to be tied for 11th spot with an overall card of 7 under par 137. Larrazabal is tied with a group of eight other golfers that also includes defending champion Branden Grace of South Africa (67). 
South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen is 6 under par 138 after carding 73 following three bogeys in round two. 
Lawrie - who fired birdies on holes 4, 7, 9, 10, 12, 16 and 18 - said he was pleased with his second day’s performance. 
“It was pretty much the same as yesterday, to be honest. Played nicely tee-to-green. Hit a lot of good shots. Only made one mistake, which was 3-putt from 20 feet at 15,” Lawrie said yesterday. 
“Same as yesterday, 3-putted the first, the only mistake I made. When you play nicely as that and control the flight of the ball like I did yesterday, you know you’re going to hole a few putts, you’re going to shoot low. So it was a good day,” Lawrie added. 
“They put the tees forward today, obviously thinking that the wind is going to blow pretty hard, and this morning it was dead calm. So I got a little frustrated after 15 because I thought you’re not taking advantage of the conditions today,” Lawrie said. 
“Then (I) played some nice golf and made a few birdies. But you’ve just got to do your game plan and kick on, and it’s going to change every now and again with the weather,” Lawrie said. 
Colsaerts, who is a shot behind Lawrie at 10 under par 134, said it was a tough day at the office. 
“A bit more of a grind to be fair. Front nine was a bit scruffy. Missed a few. There’s probably a few shots that I would like to have back or have again,” Colsaerts said. 
“And then (I) made a fantastic eagle on the first, my 10th, that sort of got me back into the rhythm that I was kind of hoping for, then I played pretty steadily for the rest of that side. 4-under is a pretty decent score today I think,” the Belgian said.
Will it be difficult going forward? 
“No, probably not. I’ve played quite well in the last couple years here. I mean, it seems like I know what to do on certain key holes and key shots,” Colsaert said in reply. “The back nine is probably a little more scorable, so you kind of -- if you get off to a good start and keep the rhythm going, you can actually play quite well out here,” he said.  
Johnston is mighty pleased sitting pretty at 9 under par 135. 
“Yeah, it’s a good start, and pleased with the two days. Drove the ball well. Kept it in play. I’ve hit a lot of good sort of iron shots right side of the pin, and I’ve putted well,” Johnston said.
When asked about the strong winds battering DGC, Johnston said: “I haven’t really thought about it that much. I’ve just sort of played and sort of taken every hole as it comes. Holed some good putts at good times for birdies and hit some good shots at other good times. It’s sort of gelled well together.”  

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