Gaganjeet Bhullar did not allow the final round collapse from last week affect him as he got off to a great start with five-under 67 in the first round of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters on Wednesday. Bhullar, who slipped to tenth after being tied second at the start of the final round in Abu Dhabi, teed off from the tenth and fired three birdies in a row, before adding two more on the stretch to turn in five-under.
Thereafter he had just one more birdie and a lone bogey second and was three behind leader George Coetzee (64). Shiv Kapur, who returned to the European Tour this year, tied 37th last week, and was four-under through 16 holes. He had four birdies in his first seven holes and played pars on the rest. Jeev Milkha Singh carded one-under 71. Coetzee holed a six-footer on the 18th to take outright lead at eight-under 64, while another South African Dawie Van Der Walt and Englishman Steve Webster shared the second place at seven-under 65 each. Four others shot 66 each. Coetzee had an eagle on 10th besides seven other birdies and a bogey, while Van Der Walt had an eagle on first, his tenth hole, and five other birdies and no bogeys.
Webster’s card was highlighted by a stunning albatross on par-five 10th, which was his first hole. He holed a five-iron from 245 yards and later said: “There were two people behind the green and one of them started jumping up and pointing down so I didn’t know if it had gone over the back into the rocks or ‘in’. I’ve never been three under after one before.”
Bhullar, Thomas Aiken, John Daly and Branden Grace were all tied eighth at 67. Bhullar, who has five titles on Asian tour against his name, was happy with his round. “I got off to a good start and was three-under after three. It felt nice flying in a short distance and conditions were good. I have been hitting well for last few months and even though it (today’s round) could have been better, I happy still happy with the 67.”
On his frame of mind, “It is a question of taking your good rhythm and positivity into the next round. I have been focusing well and I trying to manage myself well on the golf course.”
Talking of his final round in Abu Dhabi, he added: “It is not easy to re-group immediately, but it is a learning stage for me and I have a long career ahead. One must learn to swallow bitter pills in this game.”