(Reuters) - Strong winds played havoc on the opening day of the Qatar Masters on Thursday with the swirling desert sand reducing visibility at the Doha Golf Club.
Players in the $2.5 million event struggled to cope with the winds of up to 40 kilometres per hour (25 mph), which forecasters expected to strengthen during the afternoon.
Just over a dozen of the 66 players out on the course were under par with double U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, celebrating his 42nd birthday, sharing the lead at two-under par after nine holes.
World number one Lee Westwood was one-over-par after nine while playing companion and world number seven Steve Stricker, on a first visit to the region, was struggling at four-over.
Also finding it difficult in the testing conditions was England’s Ian Poulter, who headed in to his back nine at three-over.