England's Lee Westwood continued his brilliant early season form, shooting a five-under-par 67 to share the lead with South African Anton Haig in the first round of the US$2.5 million Qatar Masters on Thursday.
Westwood, the joint runner-up at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship along with Swede Henrik Stenson, enjoyed a bogey-free round taking advantage of the bright conditions at the Doha Golf Club.
He shot two birdies over the first nine holes and finished off with three more coming in to give himself a decent platform for the remainder of the tournament.
"It was a pretty solid round," Westwood said."It was a good day's workout and my confidence is pretty good."
Westwood, who lost out on the Abu Dhabi title which was won by German Martin Kaymer, credited his success to a new fitness regime that involves a lot of gym work.
"I've improved my fitness a great deal. I work out a lot in the gym and obviously that helps," he said.
Haig made a sedate start picking up two shots over his first nine holes, but stepped up his game to blaze four birdies over the next seven. However, he suffered a bogey at the 584m last hole to finish on 67.
England's Paul Broadhurst, the Swedish trio of Alexander Noren, Johan Edfors and Henrik Stenson, Aussie Adam Scott, Spaniard Sergio Garcia and German Marcel Siem were in joint second place on 69.
Eleven players, including inaugural Qatar Masters winner Andrew Coltart, were a shot behind on 70.
South African Haig was frank enough to admit he had a lot of work to do to stay in contention despite his solid display.
"I have a long way to go but I really hit the ball pretty decent today," Haig said. "I putted really well. I am looking forward to a steady week."
The South African, however, said the windy conditions at the course tested his patience.
"It's a tough struggle out there, especially with the conditions as they are, windy, and there are a lot of good players out there," said Haig who has a travelling coach, Jamie Gough, to help him with his game.
"I haven't been totally focused on my game, which I think every young guy does. But I have kind of knuckled down a bit and working with a coach who is travelling with me now, which is going to help a lot."
The Qatar Masters, which has assembled its best ever field in its 11th edition, suffered a blow on Wednesday when last year's champion, Retief Goosen, pulled out with an eye complaint.
That shifted the spotlight to world number eight Adam Scott of Australia, who was in with a chance of charging up the leaderboard when he shot two birdies over the first nine holes.
And although he hit two birdies, a bogey on the 14th set him back.