DOHA, January 28, 2016-Louis Oosthuizen set himself up to win in his first start of the year when the South African shot a seven-under-par 65 to share the first-round lead with Spanish star Pablo Larrazabal at the 19th Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. ‘Belgian Bomber’ Nicolas Colsaerts, a Ryder Cup winner in 2012, is one off the pace after belting a bogey-free 66, a score matched by Andrew Johnston of England and Bjorn Akesson of Sweden at a windy Doha Golf Club.
Two-time champion Paul Lawrie shot 67 to share sixth spot with seven others, while four-time Major winner Ernie Els, the 2005 champion, carded a 68 to stay in touch with the leading pack at the US$2.5 million European Tour event.
Defending champion Branden Grace and 2014 winner Sergio Garcia, the event’s highest-ranked players, both shot 70.
Oosthuizen, the current World No. 18 and the field’s third-highest ranked player, last competed in Qatar in 2013.
Now 33, the seven-time European Tour winner said he was happy to be back after sinking seven birdies to join Larrazabal at the top of the leaderboard. “I always play well around here and I just like the golf course. I like playing in the desert. I like the type of shot-making and grainy greens. It brings back a lot of good memories,” said Oosthuizen, who arrived in Doha sporting a new beard after six weeks away from golf.