DOHA, Qatar – With the usual gusty winds absent from Doha Golf Club, Bradley Dredge fired a bogey-free 8-under-par 64 to open up a one-shot lead in the Qatar Masters on Thursday.
In unusually benign conditions, 84 players broke par in the first round.
Mikko Kornohen of Finland, who has two top-10s this season, came in bogey free as well with a 65.
Former U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell, who has slipped to 91 in the world rankings following a winless 2016, was tied for third at 6-under 66 with the in-form Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand and Nathan Kimsey of England.
Dredge, chasing his first win since the 2006 European Masters, has enough experience of the tricky Doha Golf Club having played in 15 previous Qatar Masters. He tied for fourth last year.
He started his round in the afternoon and made the turn at 3 under. On the back nine, the Welshman made five birdies in his first seven holes, and missed chances on the 17th and 18th.
"The greens are probably slightly less grainy than normal," he said. "Felt as though I really got my eye in today, apart from my last two putts."
Dredge wished the day was windier.
"I understood that, today, the scoring was going to be good," he said. "It was the opportunity to go at more flags and get the ball a bit closer to the hole. Without the wind, it makes it a lot easier to get the score going."
McDowell started from the 10th tee and barged out in style, completing his first nine at 6 under. The birdies dried up on the more difficult front nine, as he came back with a birdie and a bogey.
Alex Noren of Sweden, the highest ranked player in the field at No. 10, shot 68 and was tied for 14th with Ernie Els.