Cormac Sharvin gave up what was a very promising start as he carded an even-par round of 71 to open his account at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
Starting from the back nine, the Ardglass professional fired three birdies on the spin from the 13th before adding another at the second, his 11th to be four-under and cruising around Doha.
However the 26-year old struggled to the clubhouse thereafter, dropping five shots in seven holes with momentary respite coming in the shape of a birdie on the par-5 sixth.
All-told, Sharvin finds himself in a share of 64th heading into Friday’s second round and leads a three-pronged Irish challenge that saw Clandeboye’s Jonathan Caldwell struggle to a three-over par round of 74 without a birdie on the card.
Amateur Michael Young found two birdies but also struggled before eventually signing for a seven-over par 78.
At the top, Nicolai Højgaard produced a remarkable run of scoring on the back nine to take the first round lead as he looks to follow brother Rasmus into the winner’s circle in Qatar.
The Danish teenager announced himself on the professional stage as he finished second to Sergio Garcia at last season’s KLM Open and since then he and identical twin brother Rasmus – alongside whom he won the Eisenhower Trophy and played in The 2018 Junior Ryder Cup – have been blazing a trail on the European Tour.
Rasmus came through Qualifying School and won the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open earlier this season but it was Nicolai’s time to shine at Education City Golf Club. The 18-year-old turned in one under but then made six birdies in eight holes from the tenth as he came home in 29 and hit the summit at seven under after a 64.
“It was a good day,” said Højgaard. “I started out slow, was playing really bad on the first four, five, six holes – I was still two under at that point but I was just playing it all over the place. My putter was just on fire today, that’s the difference.
“When I came to the back nine I was hitting fairways, hitting it close and rolling the putter. You just hit the button and you keep going. I was hitting the fairway, I was hitting greens, I was getting close on the par fives.
“My putter was just the difference today. I was playing okay with the long game but I was just holing everything.
“The back nine is a bit more tricky off the tee so I would say it was more of a three wood on the back nine, I was hitting a lot of three woods and it was pretty good.”
Dutchman Joost Luiten was a shot back, one ahead of Spaniards Jorge Campillo and Carlos Pigem, Italy’s Lorenzo Gagli, Belgian Thomas Pieters, England’s Andy Sullivan and Dane Jeff Winther.
Full scoring HERE
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