Ricardo Santos of Portugal made five birdies on his back nine to finish with a 7-under 65 Wednesday in the opening round of the Qatar Masters, taking a one shot lead over Anthony Wall and Peter Whiteford.
Santos, the European Tour's rookie of the year in 2012, had a total of eight birdies to go with a lone bogey on his second hole. Coming off a fourth-place finish at the Abu Dhabi Championship on Sunday, the 30-year-old golfer from Portugal is looking for his second win on the European Tour.
"Well, I just played really well, especially my short game," the 183rd-ranked Santos said.
"Today I missed a few shots from the tee but then recovered very well and just kept it like that."
Wall of England shot a bogey-free round that included four birdies on the front nine and a final birdie on the par-5, 18th. Whiteford, of Scotland, collected six birdies in a bogey-free round.
"You don't often get Qatar with no wind, so took advantage of it and actually hit the driver for the first time better to give myself a few chances," Whiteford said.
"It was one of those days it could have been a lot better almost. A lot of positive stuff, hit a lot of good putts."
Six players including Simon Khan of England were another stroke back in a tie for fifth, while another 13 were a further shot behind.
Among those were two of the players in the marquee group of the day - former top-ranked Martin Kaymer and fifth-ranked Justin Rose, who just missed out on a playoff Sunday in Abu Dhabi and finished second.
Fourth-ranked Louis Oosthuizen, coming off a victory in the Volvo Champions, finished with a 71 after an errant approach shot and some poor putting led to a double bogey on the 18th.
"The greens are a little of a struggle this week, and obviously in the afternoon they don't get better, but overall 4 under is a good score"
Rose was penalised a shot on 17 when his ball moved on the green just before he was about to putt.
Kaymer had the topsy-turvy round of the group, holing out from 150 yards for an eagle on the fourth but then bogeying 18 when his chip from thick rough came up short and he missed a 10-foot par putt. The German struggled with his game for much of last year but has turned it around since playing a starring role in Europe's Ryder Cup victory.
"Got lucky with one shot and made eagle on a par 4, and then it was very difficult to make putts," said Kaymer, who also had three birdies down the stretch.
"The greens are a little of a struggle this week, and obviously in the afternoon they don't get better, but overall 4 under is a good score."
Several Manchester United players - including Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes - were in the gallery, as the team is training Qatar.
"I had hold of my 3-wood into 18 and I sort of looked up to the balcony and I saw all these guys, many wearing black, so I knew it was them, although Wayne was in a red shirt," Rose said.
"That definitely added a bit of focus going into my last shot into 18 as I tried to impress the lads. It was a nice way to finish."