Scotland’s Paul Lawrie takes a one shot lead into the final round of the Commercialbank Qatar Masters presented by Dolphin Energy tomorrow (Sunday) after a second round 67 took him to eight under par for the 54-hole event.
Lawrie lifted the famous Mother of Pearl trophy back in 1999 and the 43 year-old Scot is on course for a repeat win thanks to an improved putting performance and a run of form that has seen him rack up three back-to-back top ten finishes.
"I'm playing very well from tee to green but I’ve been playing like this for a long time – the only difference now is I’m making more putts," said the Scot who leads by one from Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts. "I'm taking two or three shots less each round and if you’re a decent player then that’s always going to give you a chance to win tournaments."
The former Open Champion’s lead could have been more had he not called a one shot penalty on himself after dropping a ball onto his marker on the tenth green.
“It’s something I hadn’t done before and now I’ve done it in the last two tournaments,” he said after a round that featured six birdies and one bogey. “I marked the ball and was looking at the hole when I dropped the ball on the marker. Referee Andy Mcfee asked if I was 100 per cent sure the marker hadn’t moved but as I didn’t see it I couldn’t be certain and had to take the penalty. I asked if the TV guys had filmed it but they didn’t see it either.
“It’s a freak – a stupid rule – but you have to accept it and move on. I holed the putt and birdied the next so it didn’t affect me at all.”
With just four shots separating the top sixteen players, Lawrie is taking nothing for granted over a course that can bare its teeth whenever the desert winds pick up. “My job is to get to the first tee tomorrow, hit a good shot down the middle and move on,” he said. “That’s all I’m thinking about.”
Colsaerts is just one shot adrift of the Scot on seven under par after a second round 68, while Sweden’s Peter Hanson (69) and Ricardo Gonzalez of Argentina (67) are tied for third on six under.
South Africa’s James Kingston and Simon Khan of England share fifth place on five under and with nine players tied on four under par and another nine on three under, the tournament is wide open after high winds on day two forced The European Tour to cut the tournament to 54 holes.
One of those on three under is World Number Three Lee Westwood who carded a second round 70 (-2). “That was a bit more like it as I got up‑and‑down when I needed to,” said Westwood. “Three‑under par is about the score I was looking for coming back to the golf course today. Hopefully it's not too far down and hopefully the breeze gets up this afternoon and sort of equalizes the draw.”
Round of the day came from defending champion Thomas Bjorn who had looked destined to miss the cut after an opening day 79 (+7) but who bounced back in spectacular fashion to carve out a brilliant seven-under par 65 to move to level par for the tournament.
“I just wanted to put in a professional performance, and I put in that performance today where I ground out every single shot and started rolling in a few,” said the Dane. “To finish off the way I did just makes you pleased with your performance and now we just have to try and play a good round tomorrow and at least get a good result out of the event.”
While Bjorn pulled himself back into the $2.5 million event – which was cut at one over par - not so lucky were first time Doha visitors KJ Choi (+2) and Hunter Mahan (+5), Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie (+5) and former Qatar champions Henrik Stenson and Robert Karlsson from Sweden both on twelve over par.