Paul Lawrie fired a brilliant 66 to set the clubhouse target on day two of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters as he seeks to become the first man to win the Mother of Pearl Trophy three times – and the tournament’s oldest winner.
Now 47, the 1999 and 2012 champion had expertly tackled the wind on his way to an opening 67, but took advantage of the calmer conditions on Thursday morning to move to 11-under and hold a two-shot lead over Gregory Bourdy (68) and Andrew Johnston (69).
Sergio Garcia, the 2014 winner and the field’s second-ranked player, moved to eight-under after a 66 at Doha Golf Club that included an eagle on 16. Thorbjorn Olesen (69) and Pelle Edberg (66) are also eight-under, while defending champion Branden Grace is a shot behind after a 67.
While there were plenty of sub-70 scores in the early rounds, nobody could better Lawrie, who made the Ryder Cup team in each of the two seasons he won here previously.
“It was pretty much the same as yesterday to be honest. I played nicely tee to green and hit a lot of good shots. I only made one mistake, which was a three-putt from 20 feet at the 15th,” said Lawrie, who’s aware he’s in the running to make history.
“It's got to help that you know you've won this tournament twice before. It's nice to go back to places that you know you can play well on and you have done in the past. It all helps. You see your name on the board a couple of times and you walk past it every day at the range.
“There’s a long way to go, a lot of golf to be played and a lot of top players still up there, but so far, so good.”