Larrazabal leads with Kearney best of the Irish in Qatar

Adam McKendry

Niall Kearney (Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

Royal Dublin’s Niall Kearney is the leading Irishman after the opening round of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters after opening with a two-under 70 at Doha Golf Club.

The 34-year-old played his first ten holes in one-over after carding a birdie and two bogeys, but a run of three straight birdies late in his round, starting at the 14th, has him six shots off early leader Pablo Larrazábal.

“It was a solid start, the course was playing good and tough but I hit the ball pretty solid so I was happy enough,” Kearney said.

“It was nice to finish well. To be honest, the back-nine is a bit more gettable than the front so you sort of have to stock up around the back and you’re more holding on around the front.

“It’s my first time in Qatar but Doha is a nice club. It’s quite rocky and sandy and all that sort of stuff so it can be a little bit frustrating at times if your ball bounces off a rock but it’s all part of it. It’s a decent start and hopefully I can keep it going for the week now.”

Clandeboye man Jonathan Caldwell showed signs of resurgence, too, as he opened with a one-under 71 in Doha but he will rue a bogey-strewn back-nine.

The Scandinavian Mixed winner has missed seven cuts in his last eight events but, after starting at the 10th, looked to be off with a flier with four birdies in the last five holes of an outward nine of 32.

However, four bogeys around one birdie on his back-nine saw him slide back down the leaderboard into a share of 41st after day one, seven off the lead.

Meanwhile, Ardglass man Cormac Sharvin will need a good second round to stick around for the weekend after a two-over 74.

Like Caldwell, the 29-year-old has struggled to play weekends having made just three in his last 18 events, and four birdies and six bogeys means he needs to do some work on Friday at tied-86th.

Meanwhile, Larrazábal has positioned himself nicely to try and claim a second win on the DP World Tour in his last three events after he carded nine birdies and just one bogey in an eight-under 64 to lead by two.

The Spaniard, who won the MyGolfLife Open two weeks ago, had recorded three consecutive top-six finishes prior to missing the cut in Steyn City last week but appears to have taken his form into this week, too.

He leads by a pair from Shubhankar Sharma, Markus Helligkilde, Romain Langasque and Adrian Meronk, all of whom opened with 66s, with Scotland’s Ewen Ferguson and England’s Robert Rock a shot further back having signed for 67s.


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