Santos shines in Doha

Ricardo Santos, who last year became Portugal’s first European Tour winner for 20 years, made a flying start to the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in Doha today.

The 30-year-old from Faro fired a seven under par 65 as the early starters took advantage of an unusually calm morning in the second leg of the three-week Desert Swing.

Santos, whose victory at the Madeira Islands Open came with a closing 63, led by a stroke from England’s Anthony Wall and Scot Peter Whiteford.

Spain’s Sergio Garcia, meanwhile, began his season with a 69, but holder Paul Lawrie and Open champion Ernie Els both had to settle for level par 72s, Els finishing with a bogey six.

Justin Rose and Louis Oosthuizen, at fourth and fifth in the world the highest-ranked players in the field, were among the later starters.

Santos made six unsuccessful trips to the qualifying school before coming through the second division Challenge Tour two years ago.

The world number 184 came fourth in Abu Dhabi on Sunday and after going to the turn in 34 grabbed five front nine birdies.

Wall and Whiteford are ranked only 231st and 326th respectively, but the Tour’s growing strength in depth was further illustrated by them going bogey-free to tuck in just behind Santos.

Former winner Henrik Stenson looked as if he might be the man to catch, but after reaching five under the Swede ran up three bogeys in a row – the last of them finding the lake at the short eighth, his 17th.

New Zealand’s Michael Campbell took another step on the comeback trail with a 68, but South African Retief Goosen, another former US Open champion, could not recover from opening with a double bogey seven and signed for a 74.

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