Lawrie masters the calm in Qatar for one-shot lead
Former British Open champion Paul Lawrie shot a steady five-under-par 67 at the Qatar Masters on Saturday to open up a one-shot lead over a stellar chasing bunch with 18 holes remaining at the wind-affected event.
Big winds on Friday forced tournament organisers to cut the tournament to a 54-hole event, and it was 1999 Open winner Lawrie who seized the initiative in vastly improved conditions.
The Briton, on eight-under overall (136), leads big-hitting Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts (68) by a stroke with Sweden`s Peter Hanson (69) and Argentine Ricardo Gonzalez (67) one back.
"I`m putting much better. I struggled for two or three seasons with the blade. I`m never going to say I got everything but I`m putting good. I feel I`m getting better as I get older," the Scot told reporters.
The 43-year-old, who won the same event in 1999 before his greatest triumph at Carnoustie, incurred a one stroke penalty on the 10th green after he dropped his ball on his marker for the second week running.
"I`d never done it in my life - 20 years on Tour - but last week in Abu Dhabi I was lucky because my caddie saw it and said the marker never moved," Lawrie told reporters.
"This time I wasn`t sure and (senior referee) Andy McFee said I had to be 100 percent sure.
"I wasn`t watching and you guys didn`t have it on the telecast, so you`ve got to take the penalty and kick on."
World number 10 Jason Day is four-under overall (140) with 18th-ranked Sergio Garcia while world number three Lee Westwood and fourth-ranked Martin Kaymer are one shot further behind.
The round of the day came from defending champion Thomas Bjorn, who was all at sea in the first round when he shot a seven-over 79, but improved by a remarkable 14 strokes to card a seven-under 65 and amazingly make the cut.
"I know I can shoot numbers on this golf course. I wasn`t feeling down and out yesterday," the Dane told the European Tour`s website.