Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Webster makes great start in Qatar

Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke was forced to withdraw from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters on Wednesday through injury.
Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke was forced to withdraw from the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters on Wednesday through injury.

England's Steve Webster made an amazing start to the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters on Wednesday, holing his second shot of the tournament for an albatross.

Webster began his first round on the 10th hole at Doha Golf Club and saw his approach to the 548-yard par five disappear into the cup for the second albatross on the European Tour this season, Holland's Joost Luiten having carded the first in the Volvo Golf Champions in Durban.

A par on the 11th was then followed by a birdie on the 12th and took Webster to four under par, three shots behind clubhouse leader Dawie van der Walt.

Van der Walt, who won the Nelson Mandela Championship in his native South Africa in December, had carded a flawless 65 containing five birdies and an eagle to lead by one shot from Spanish duo Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Nacho Elvira and France's Francois Calmels.

Cabrera-Bello, who was fourth in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, and Elvira both carded six birdies and no bogeys while Calmels had a more adventurous 66 with an eagle on the 10th, six birdies and two bogeys.

European number one Henrik Stenson quickly returned to form after a rare missed cut in Abu Dhabi, the Swede carding birdies at his last two holes to complete a four-under 68.

Playing partner Jason Dufner, the US PGA champion, returned a 70 but the third member of the marquee group, former world number one Luke Donald, could only manage a 72 which featured a missed par putt from inside a foot on the fourth.

Play got under way shortly after 7am local time following a 30-minute fog delay, but Darren Clarke was forced to miss out on his 500th European Tour appearance after pulling out through injury.

Clarke, who has lost more than three stone since October in a bid to recapture his best form, was due to play alongside defending champion Chris Wood and Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez in the first two rounds.

However, the 45-year-old suffered a pulled muscle on Tuesday and was forced to withdraw, with Sweden's Jens Dantorp - who earnt his card through the qualifying school last year - taking his place in the field.

Clarke won the Open Championship in 2011, but has failed to record a single top-10 on the European Tour since his triumph at Royal St George's.

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