Lawrie leads by one in windy Qatar
Doha, Qatar – Paul Lawrie fired a five-under 67 in breezy stroke lead after two rounds of the Qatar Masters.
Lawrie, who won both this event and the British Open in 1999, completed 36 holes at eight-under-par 136. He broke a nine-year winless drought last year with a victory at the Open de Andalucia and will go for his seventh tour title on Sunday.
The event was cut to 54 holes after heavy wind on Friday forced officials to pull players off the course at Doha Golf Club. The wind never diminished Friday so the play was called for the day and completed on Saturday.
Lawrie has five players within three strokes of his lead, but there are 10 players tied for seventh, four shots back.
Nicolas Colsaerts, last year's China Open winner, posted a four-under 68 to end 36 holes at seven-under-par 137. Ricardo Gonzalez (67) and Peter Hanson (69) share third place at minus-six, while James Kingston (69) and Simon Khan (68) are tied for fifth at five-under 139.
The group four strokes off the lead includes Jason Day, Sergio Garcia and John Daly, who had the lead when play was called on Friday despite not hitting a single shot.
First-round leader Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano had two bogeys in the seven holes he played on Friday. In his final 11 holes on Saturday, he managed 10 pars and another bogey to post a three-over 75, which dropped him into a share of 16th at minus-three.
Lawrie, who played his entire second round on Saturday, started with a birdie on the first. However, he gave that stroke back as he tripped to a bogey on the par-three third.
After three pars in a row, Lawrie converted a birdie effort on the seventh. Another birdie at the ninth gave the Scotsman a share of the lead at minus- five.
Lawrie could have birdied the 10th, but for the second straight week he dropped his ball on his ball marker and was forced to take a one-shot penalty.
"I'd never done it in my life, 20 years on Tour, but last week in Abu Dhabi I was lucky because my caddie saw it and said the marker never moved," Lawrie explained.
"This time I wasn't sure and (referee) Andy McFee said I had to be 100 percent sure. I wasn't watching and [they] didn't have it on the telecast, so you've got to take the penalty and kick on."
Lawrie bounced back with his second birdie in two rounds on the 11th. With that, he regained a piece of the lead after Colsaerts and Kingston had moved ahead. Lawrie again fell behind as he parred four in a row from the 12th.
The 43-year-old Lawrie converted a birdie try on No. 16 to join Colsaerts at minus-seven. Lawrie got up and down from the right rough at the last to head into the final round with a one-stroke lead.
Colsaerts, who was in the group ahead of Lawrie, had six birdies on Saturday, four of which came on holes he also birdied in round one.
He birdied the first for the second straight round, then birdied the fourth to get to minus-five. Colsaerts dropped a shot on the seventh before making pars on eight and nine.
Colsaerts, 29, birdied the 10th and 12th, both for the second round in a row to move atop the leaderboard. He climbed to seven-under with a birdie on 16.
However, Colsaerts stumbled to a bogey on the par-three 17th. He atoned for that error with his second birdie in two rounds at the last.
NOTES: Defending champion Thomas Bjorn rallied with a seven-under 65 to finish two rounds at even-par 144...The cut line fell at one-over-par 145 with 76 players moving on to the final round...Among those that missed the cut were Matteo Manassero, K.J. Choi, Henrik Stenson, Hunter Mahan, Colin Montgomerie and Peter Uihlein.