Flying the flag for Ireland solo this week, Gavin Moynihan opened with a one-under par 71 to get his Commercial Bank Qatar Masters bid off to a sound start in Doha.
The Mount Juliet touring professional, now sporting a CarsIreland.ie logo to go with it, returned a bag of Revels to the clubhouse with all but one of his six birdies cancelled out by three bogeys and a double.
Conditions proved tough, however, and with the Dubliner out in the early hours of this morning, his minus-one total is currently good enough for a share of 38th spot.
After collecting a cheque worth €23,293 for last week’s result in Oman, Moynihan will be looking to kick on tomorrow at a venue where he shot a 67 in round two 12 months ago only to still miss out on the weekend action.
It’s not an overly fierce pace that’s been set atop the pile either, with Adri Arnaus and Justin Walters heading a congested leaderboard at Doha Golf Club after they carded first rounds of 67s.
Arnaus, in his first full season on the European Tour after graduating from the European Challenge Tour, set the clubhouse target of five-under par after a tricky morning session.
“It was a lot of fun, honestly,” said Arnaus. “The wind picked up early, but we kept the ball in play most of the time and gave myself good looks. I was able to take advantage of those, so I’m pretty pleased. Compared to practice rounds, we had to be aware of major wind today. The lines stayed the same, so hitting good swings was good enough.
“It was so good being in contention last year, and then at the end being able to close it out at the Challenge Tour Grand Final gave me the belief that I could go on and do it on a bigger stage.”
Walters was one of just two golfers to go bogey-free on the Peter Harradine-designed course. The South African also opened his round with a birdie and then made four gains in seven holes around the turn to join Arnaus at the top of the leaderboard.
“Warming up today in the wind I was thinking anything under par would be a great score, so to go five under I’m ecstatic,” said Walters.
“I putted really well, certainly when I left myself a bit of work to do. Short game was really good today, I’ve done a lot of work on that. I haven’t done that in a while, even in calm conditions, so to do it in conditions like this is very welcome.”
Walters’ compatriots George Coetzee and Justin Harding are two of seven golfers who share third place on four-under par and 19 golfers are tied for tenth place on three-under par, including last week’s Oman Open winner, Kurt Kitayama.