Swede Johan Edfors shot a scintillating six-under-par 66 to take a two-shot lead going into the third round at the $2,5-million Qatar Masters on Friday.
Edfors, who was tied for the second place in a pack of six players on 69 at the end of the first round on Thursday, blazed a birdie trail at the Doha Golf course on a day when the chill caught many by surprise.
He hit the best score of the tournament so far, which included seven birdies and a bogey on the fourth hole.
Enjoying a purple patch on the front nine, he picked up successive birdies on the fifth, sixth and seventh holes to set himself up nicely for the rest of the tournament with an aggregate of nine-under-par 135.
Trailing Edfors by two shots were South African Charl Schwartzel and England’s Lee Westwood on seven-under-par 137, while Sweden’s Alexander Noren, South African Anton Haig, Englishmen Ross McGowan and David Howell were in third place a shot behind.
Westwood stroked a 70 in the second round following his 67 in Thursday, a dropped shot on the 14th hole denying him a clear-cut second spot.
England’s Paul Casey, former winner Joakim Haeggman and Abu Dhabi champion Martin Kayman was among those who missed the cut, which was set at 145.
Edfors credited a two-month break for his success.
”I took a two-month break after last year [and] had a good think about what I did last year,” said Edfors.
”I wasn’t happy with the way I was playing last year and how I was feeling on the course. I wasn’t enjoying myself as I usually do and changed some aspects that have helped me get back into shape that I want to be.”
”Seventy is a good score in these conditions,” said Westwood. ”I played okay, just couldn’t get any momentum.”
Schwartzel, who was on two-under at the end of the first round, picked up five shots in a flawless round of 67 for an aggregate of seven-under-par 137.
Schwartzel was surprised by the cold conditions in Qatar.
”I wasn’t expecting it. Like this morning [Friday], I had four layers of clothing on,” said Schwartzel. ”It was cold, but you have to cope with it.”
Scottish ace Colin Montgomerie also excelled on Thursday, shooting a 68 to be tied with England’s Nick Dougherty and former winner Henrik Stenson on 139.
The burly Scot was also caught unawares by the morning chill. ”It was very cold,” said Montgomerie. ”I haven’t actually come prepared. I have a sweater for the planes, but it doesn’t have the sponsorship logos on it, so I couldn’t wear it. I was frozen this morning.”
But the weather had little effect on his game as he put in a fluent display. ”All in all 68 with no bogeys was the key and if I can keep the bogeys off the card I have a chance here,” added Montgomerie. — AFP