Deja Vu All Over Again: German Advance Falters in the Desert
By Conor Nagle under European PGA Tour

42? They grow up so fast.

The European Tour’s Gulf swing trundles on this week with the Commercialbank Qatar Masters, held in not-so-sunny (and windswept) Doha. Thursday’s first round, played in gusts of proper wind (to be distinguished from American-style ‘wind’ that would scarcely ruffle Rickie Fowler’s Playmobil hair) succeeded in sending scores soaring and leaving the leaderboard littered with high-profile casualties.

Martin Kaymer, or ‘The Germanator’ as we’re apparently calling him now, failed to card a single birdie en route to a disappointing 77, but was by no means alone in finding Doha GC a challenge: only a handful of players managed to break par all day. The best of them was Retief Goosen, celebrating his 42nd birthday, who cobbled together a 69 in spite/because of his rickety, belly-putter assisted putting stroke.

Lee Westwood, who’s trying to fend off the the (sporting) advances of Kaymer, could only manage a 73, but it was enough to see him comfortably ensconced in the top-20 and alongside Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen, whose impressive play seemed to deserve greater reward.

Ian Poulter took to Twitter to describe his level-par 72:

“I can safely say my head was firmly wedged up my arse on the front 9. But Terry managed to unplug it for the back 9. Level par result.”

One assumes he was speaking figuratively. If not, his opening round of 72 should go down as one of the all-time greats– up there with Tiger winning the US Open on one leg.

This week’s visiting American of note, Steve Stricker, managed to card a 76, marginally better than the one-man sponsor’s exemption lobby group that is John Daly.