Moynihan and Clarke buried in the sand in Doha

Bernie McGuire
Bernie McGuire

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Gavin Moynihan’s harsh introduction to life on the European Tour continued after he fired a five-over-par 77 on day one of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in Doha.

Moynihan only arrived to the capital at 1am on Thursday after receiving an unexpected call-up to the event and was on the tee at 11.30am without so much as a sniff of the venue.

Unfortunately the lack of a practice round soon told for the Dubliner who succumbed to a quadruple-bogey 8 at the par-4 2nd. He dropped two more on his way to an outward half of 42 but rather than get deflated, Moynihan hung tough.

35 strokes home and two birdies on the card gives him a very outside chance of the weekend cut but it will need to be some turnaround tomorrow given Gavin currently sits second last.

In a horror start for the Irish raiders, Moynihan’s just one shot worse off than Northern Irishman, Darren Clarke, who carded a four-over 76 on the opening day.

Clarke’s miserable run of form was compounded by five bogeys in a six-hole stretch and he’s another one who needs a miracle to make it to the weekend given the hot run of scoring ahead.

Leading that scoring is rising young English star, Aaron Rai, who finished with a sublime eagle on the opening day at Doha Golf Club to move into a share of the lead alongside his more experienced counter-parts Grégory Havret and Eddie Pepperell.

The 22 year old from Wolverhampton posted a flawless seven under 65 in the Qatari capital after reaching the lengthy par five final hole in two before holing a 12-foot eagle putt to card the hole’s only three all day.

“I drove it well and then gave myself a lot of opportunities with the approach play, didn’t miss too many greens”, remarked the Englishman. “It can get very tricky around the greens here with the Bermuda grass being very hard to predict.

“I think we were very fortunate this morning to have it so calm but the course itself is very good. There are some tricky holes but there are some opportunities if you drive it well and have some good approach play.

“It was all pretty steady, I didn’t really make too many mistakes. Gameplan-wise, you have to be doing something right and playing some good golf to shoot a 65 so I’ll just continue in the same vein and try not to change too much.”

Like Rai, Havret also posted a flawless opening round as the Frenchman, who is on course to reach 500 European Tour appearances this season, went on a hot streak with six birdies in eight holes from the sixth – including four in a row – en route to a 65. Pepperell’s 65, meanwhile is his lowest round since last October’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.

Former Ryder Cup player Edoardo Molinari, who chipped in for birdie at the last, and seven-time European Tour winner Alvaro Quiros were a shot back on six under par alongside Englishman Oliver Fisher and Germany’s Marcel Schneider.

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