Sergio Garcia tamed windy conditions to shoot a second-round 66 and join a four-way tie for the lead at the Qatar Masters on Thursday.
The Spaniard made six birdies and no bogeys, but was most pleased by the way in which he coped with the breeze that blew up after the first round had been played in perfectly calm conditions.
“It was not the strong wind we are used to seeing here, but we had to choose the right clubs and it made some of the drives a little tougher,” Garcia told reporters. “I managed to play smart and do that fairly nicely, and when I feel good I love to hit all sorts of shots, draws fades, highs and lows, and I am hoping I will be able to do it again in the final two rounds.”
Garcia will face tough competition because among the three other players sharing the lead at nine-under was former world No. 1 Martin Kaymer, who carded a second-round 67.
The German has won three times in nearby Abu Dhabi, but has missed cuts in Qatar. However, this year he feels ready to put another desert setting on his victory list having tightened up his driving in Abu Dhabi last week.
“The first week of the season, you don’t know if all the practice you have been doing will pay off straightaway, but I learned a lot last week about my irons and driving the ball, and I have used it here this week very well already. I think it will be a good couple of days,” Kaymer said.
Portugal’s Ricardo Santos, who had led after the first round, took his score to 10-under and looked to be opening a big lead over the field when he made three birdies in his first four holes, but after three bogeys in the second half of his round he could only sign for a 70.
The fourth player at the top of the leaderboard was Australian Marcus Fraser, who made the most of the smoother greens early in the day to shoot a 67.
Scottish Ryder Cup player Paul Lawrie, who had been hoping to become the first man to win the Qatar tournament three times, missed the cut.
He walked angrily off the course, refusing to talk to the media, after a four-putt on the 15th green cost him a double-bogey and a second successive 72 saw him miss the cut by one shot.
World No. 4 Justin Rose, the highest ranked player in the field, finished on five-under following a second-round 71.