James steers clear in Doha

James Kingston defied intense winds from a desert storm and shot 70 for round one of the Commercialbank Qatar Masters at Doha Golf Club on Thursday.

He gritted his teeth over the final 13 holes, never deviating from par and closing the round at two-under, four strokes shy of leader Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño.

Kingston opened his scoring with a birdie at the fourth and followed it with a further birdie at the fifth. The pair of birdies was his only move away from par during a grueling round.

Leader Fernandez-Castaño said: “I would have taken level par. We couldn’t see the ball landing on the fairways and I just tried to keep it as low as possible.”

He shot an unmatched 66 after clocking up an impressive nine birdies and finished one stroke ahead of American John Daly, who made his way round in 67 and closed the day at five-under.

Daly went bogey-free round the 6756-metre course to close the first round at four-under. He said that conditions were “brutal.” “It’s one of the best rounds I’ve ever played in a wind like that. You feel like you are eating a lot of sand,” he added.

George Coetzee, fresh off his tied sixth finish at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship last week, opened with a decent 70 to close the first round alongside Kingston.

World number 81 Jaco van Zyl carded a first-round 71. He closed the first round at one-under, two strokes clear of Thomas Aiken, Retief Goosen and Keith Horne, who all shot one-over-par 73.

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