24 February, 2018: Eddie Pepperell (65) turned in 33 to open up a one-shot lead on a low-scoring moving day at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. Oliver Fisher joined him at the top of the leaderboard with an equally impressive 66.
Uncharacteristically low winds had allowed the players to go low throughout the week at Doha Golf Club and that theme continued on Saturday as Englishman Pepperell got himself to 13 under as he goes in search of a first European Tour title.
Countryman David Horsey completed a 65 to set the clubhouse target just a shot back and he was alongside another Englishman in Oliver Fisher and Italian Lorenzo Gagli.
Spanish trio Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño, Pablo Larrazábal and Adrian Otaegui were then on course at 11 under, with Japan’s Hideto Tanihara at the same mark after signing for a 66.
Horsey had started his day with an eagle but bogeyed the third before making gains on the fourth and seventh and when he picked up another shot on the tenth, he was just two off the lead.
Gagli got to ten under quickly, birdieing the second, fourth and fifth and when the final group got under way Pepperell took advantage of the par five first to get to 11 under.
The group at the top would soon swell to six as Fisher produced some dialled-in iron play to birdie the third and fifth, Fernandez-Castaño holed a 20-footer on the sixth to go with birdies on the second and fifth, and Gagli made another gain on the ninth.
Horsey hit a smart tee-shot into the 13th to stay within touching distance and when he drove the 16th and got down in two, he was in a share of the lead.
Pepperell broke out of that group with a 15-footer on the fifth but the chasing pack would not be shaken off and Gagli put an approach to eight feet on the tenth to join him.
Fisher’s excellent iron play continued with a beautiful tee-shot on the par three eighth that helped him to 12 under, and when Horsey made the most of the par five last, he held the lead in the clubhouse and a share on the course.
Pepperell was then again the man to break the logjam with an approach to six feet on the seventh.
The benign conditions meant chances were plentiful, with Fernandez-Castaño missing good ones on the ninth and tenth and Gagli doing the same on the 12th and 13th.
Tanihara was bogey-free in his round, making birdies on the first, tenth, 11th, 13th, 16th and 17th.
Overnight leader Otaegui made nine straight pars playing alongside Pepperell, while Larrazábal also turned in level par but then birdied the tenth and 11th.
South Korean Cho Rak-hyun was then in the clubhouse in a group of eight players at ten under.
European Tour Release