Grace starts strong in Qatar

SA Open Championship: Round 4Branden Grace made a solid start to the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters on Wednesday with a round of 67 that earned him a share of third place at the close of day one.

“It was nice to start the way I did today. It was nice to get a couple of birdies towards the end and five-under is a good start to the week,” he said.

His fifth European Tour win came at the Alfred Dunhill Championship two months ago and the 26-year-old’s game is in good shape. He displayed that form on Wednesday and his five-under-par total left him two shots behind Oliver Fisher’s lead.

“There’s something about the Middle East,” said Grace. “I like the courses here and they seem to suit me. I managed to roll a couple of putts in today and it’s nice to come here and play well.”

Joining the tie for third place was Ernie Els, who last week shared 12th place at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Champions after carding a Sunday 65.

“I’m glad we’re getting going a day early. I had a nice round on Sunday last week and made some putts, which I’m most excited about,” said Els, who managed to keep his card clean throughout the round.

Darren Fichardt started on the 10th and joined his countrymen on five under with a birdie at his last hole of the round.

The South African compliment in Doha included George Coetzee in a share of 14th place, with Thomas Aiken and Charl Schwartzel joining a share of 22nd place on three-under.

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