Strong winds playing havoc on opening day of Qatar Masters

Friday, 4 February 2011 00:22 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

(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.