Mar 05, 2020: Nicolai Højgaard produced a remarkable run of scoring on the back nine to take the first round lead as he looks to follow brother Rasmus into the winner’s circle at the 2020 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. S.S.P Chawrasia carded four-under-par 68 in the opening round and sharing the spot inside top ten.
Chawrasia shot five birdies and a lone bogey to trail the lead just by three shots and lying at T9. the other only Indian in the field Shubhankar Sharma carded par-71 with seven birdies, five bogeys and a double and lying at T64.
The Danish teenager announced himself on the professional stage as he finished second to Sergo Garcia at last season’s KLM Open and since then he and identical twin brother Rasmus – alongside whom he won the Eisenhower Trophy and played in the Junior Ryder Cup – have been blazing a trail on the European Tour.
Rasmus came through the Qualifying School and won the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open earlier this season but it was Nicolai’s time to shine at Education City Golf Club.
The 18-year-old turned in one under but then made six birdies in eight holes from the tenth as he came home in 29 and hit the summit at seven under after a 64.
“It was a good day,” said Nicolai Højgaard. “I started out slow, was playing really bad on the first four, five, six holes – I was still two under at that point but I was just playing it all over the place. My putter was just on fire today, that’s the difference.
“When I came to the back nine I was hitting fairways, hitting it close and rolling the putter. You just hit the button and you keep going. I was hitting the fairway, I was hitting greens, I was getting close on the par fives.
“My putter was just the difference today. I was playing okay with the long game but I was just holing everything.
“The back nine is a bit more tricky off the tee so I would say it was more of a three wood on the back nine, I was hitting a lot of three woods and it was pretty good.”
England’s Marcus Armitage made the first big move of the day, birdieing the second and third and then reeling off a hat-trick from the fifth to get to five under.
Luiten made birdies on the tenth, 11th, 13th and 18th and the duo were pulling away as Armitage birdied the tenth and Luiten joined him on six under with gains on the first and fourth.
A double bogey from Armitage on the 12th put Luiten two ahead but Højgaard was starting to make his move.
After birdies on the third and fifth, he dropped a shot on the eighth, but six gains in a row after the turn catapulted him to seven under alongside Luiten, who had holed a long putt from off the green at the seventh.
Luiten bogeyed the next and with Højgaard holing from six feet, the advantage was two before the leader dropped a shot on the last.
Gagli, who achieved his best finish of the season so far last week despite the disruption of being tested for coronavirus, parred his first 11 holes but then birdied the 12th, 13th, 14th, 16th and last to fly up the leaderboard.
Pieters started with a bogey but picked up shots on the 13th, 15th, 16th, 18th and second and, while he made a bogey on the fourth, he birdied the fifth and eighth.
Winther eagled the tenth and 13th and birdied the 12th to get to five under after four holes and he stayed there, adding three birdies and three bogeys.
Campillo and Sullivan both made six birdies and a single bogey in their rounds, while Pigem recovered from being two over after six holes with seven birdies.