Goosen celebrates birthday on top

South African beats windy conditions to end day one of Qatar Masters with a three-under 69 as bad light stops play.

    Al Jazeera's Joanna Gasiorowska reports on a tough first day at the Qatar Masters in Doha.

    Strong winds made it a testing day for Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer as they commenced their battle for the world number one spot, while Retief Goosen headed the leaderboard on his 42nd birthday.

    The double major winner shot a three-under-par 69 to take the lead after the opening round.

    The strong winds caused problems for a number of players, including world number two Kaymer who struggled to a 77, and seven will return to complete their first rounds on Friday after play was halted due to poor light.

    Among them was Sweden's Niclas Fasth, two-under through 15 holes and in a tie for second place on Thursday.

    Twice US Open winner Goosen was just one of eight players in the field to go under par, recording five birdies including a gem at the long par-five ninth, his last hole.

    "I was born in 1969 and I shot a 69 so it was a good opening score today on this tough day," Goosen told Al Jazeera.

    Compatriot Darren Fichardt, defending champion Robert Karlsson from Sweden and Briton Richard Finch carded scores of 70 with Austrian Markus Brier, Britons Seve Benson and Oliver Fisher and South African Thomas Aiken on 71.

    Toughest conditions

    World number one Westwood, who was tied third behind Karlsson last year, birdied his last to sign for a 73 and said the conditions were the toughest he had encountered in the Middle East.

    "It was very tough out there and the hardest conditions I've experienced in all the years I've been coming here," he said.

    Kaymer can topple Westwood as number one should he win and the Englishman finishes outside the top two or if he comes in second and Westwood is outside the top 22.

    However, the usually methodical German failed to get a single birdie, a change in fortunes since his eight-stroke Abu Dhabi Championship win two weeks ago where he carded only one bogey.

    American world number seven Steve Stricker, who played alongside Westwood, struggled to a 76 and double major-winning compatriot John Daly shot a 77.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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