Gaganjeet Bhullar shoots 67 in Doha, David Law in the lead

An emphatic 67 helped Gaganjeet Bhullar start the Qatar Masters inside the top ten. David Law leads after posting a brilliant 64 in the opening round

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Gaganjeet Bhullar - European Tour

11 March 2021: The European Tour swung into action again at the Education City Golf Club in Doha. David Law shot 7-under 64 to take a one-stroke lead over four golfers. Gaganjeet Bhullar, one of three Indians in the field, shot his way to the top ten with a flurry of birdies on his second nine. He shot 67 in the opening round, with Shubhankar Sharma and SSP Chawrasia trailing further back from Bhullar.

On a crowded leaderboard, the top twenty were separated by just three strokes. Richard McEvoy and three others were chasing the leader with a 65. Thomas Detry is also in a group of four golfers at 66. Bhullar has ten golfers for company at 67.

David Law - European Tour - Getty Images
David Law – European Tour – Getty Images

Law was spotless, collecting five birdies in the first eight holes to set his eyes on the top of the leaderboard. He added birdies at the 13th and 15th for an imposing 64. Kalle Samooja shot seven birdies earlier in the day to secure the clubhouse lead at six-under only to be overhauled by Law.

“It was a good score. I played really well. Conditions were quite easy but I was happy with my iron play and I holed some putts, which was nice,” said Law

“I’ve been guilty over the last few weeks when I’ve had decent rounds going but not finishing them off. I was semi-conscious of sticking with it and trying to go low. I was really happy with how I stuck to my routines, my processes and I came out of it with a good score.

“I’m a lot more focused on my targets rather than my golf swings. Over the last couple of seasons I’ve been guilty of asking myself why I’ve been hitting bad shots, instead of just going on to hit the next one. Over the break we had I sat down with my coach Alan McCloskey and Paul Lawrie, we discussed it and it’s all about getting the ball in the hole now, trusting that you’ve done the hard work and the work’s done,” added Law.

“It’s a nice draw. I’m looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow. It’ll be different. Although it was hot and muggy it was calm, it’s never normally like that here. Tomorrow will be a bit more like normal, a bit of wind and it’ll be testing. I’m looking forward to it.”

Bhullar makes an impressive start

Bhullar suffered an early setback. He conceded a bogey at the 11th but repaired the damage with a quick bounce back birdie on the 13th hole. The Indian, ranked in 580th now, made the turn at 1-over as he took five on the par-4 17th hole.

His card turned red quickly though, as he scorched the course with a hattrick of birdies starting on the 2nd hole. Birdies at the 7th and 9th helped drive Bhullar to 4-under in the opening round.

Chawrasia built his round on the strength of three birdies in the later half of his round. The golfer from Kolkata took a knock early, as he made four on the par-3 fourth hole.

The four-time European Tour winner shot seven straight pars before getting down to some serious business, firing three birdies in four holes for a sudden surge up the order. Unfortunately, another bogey at the 17th dented Chawrasia’s card again, eventually reading one-under 70.

Shubhankar lets advantage slip through his fingers

Shubhankar Sharma - European Tour
Shubhankar Sharma – European Tour

Shubhankar Sharma got off to a rousing start, only to suffer slow disappointment. The 356th ranked Indian sailed with the wind on his back, producing three  birdies in the first four holes. The young man has a habit of scoring in bunches and his fans may have hoped for another of those low rounds.

But the course caught up with him rather quickly too. Shubhankar conceded bogeys on the 14th and 18th holes, both playing to par at four to return back most of the early gains.

Shubhankar sought to turn the tide with some good golf including a birdie on the second hole, but the course extracted a six from him on the par-5 sixth hole, dropping him back to even par. He finished with a 71, and with even par measuring up to only 78th on the leaderboard, Shubhankar will need an improved effort on Friday to secure the weekend.

Datagolf is predicting the cut to fall at 1-under tomorrow. One of the issues bothering Shubhankar is that he is trending negative on true strokes gained across the board. In the eight rounds he has played thus far in 2021, Shubhankar is gaining 0.26 strokes with his putting, but the rest of his game isn’t doing the young man any favours.