Louis Oosthuizen goes low on return to action at the Qatar Masters
By Ali Stafford
Last Updated: 27/01/16 3:17pm
Louis Oosthuizen showed no signs of rust in his first appearance of the year, as the South African maintained his impressive early-season record at the Qatar Masters.
The 33-year-old, making his first competitive start since last month's Nedbank Golf Challenge, fired seven bogeys in a blemish-free 65 in Doha to hold a share of the early clubhouse lead.
Injury meant Oosthuizen didn't start his 2015 campaign until March, where he finished sixth at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, but prior to that the South African had won his first event of the calendar year on the past four occasions.
Oosthuizen won the African Open in 2011 and 2012 before going on to take the Volvo Golf Championship title over the next two years, with the former Open champion making another strong start in his latest season opener.
The world No 18 opened with back-to-back gains on his way to reaching the turn in 32, before following birdies at the first and the sixth with another at the last to join Pablo Larrazabal at the top of the leaderboard.
"I think I should take more eight week breaks," Oosthuizen joked, "The break in December was really nice.
"There were two occasions where it looked like I was going to make bogey but recovered well and the rest was very solid, good ball-striking and I made one or two putts.
"I like playing in the desert. I always play well around here, and just like the golf course. I like the type of shot-making, grainy greens.
"It brings back a lot of good memories. They are expecting some horrible winds later in the week and then it gets really difficult."
Larrazabal, who also made a bogey-free start, won on the 'Desert Swing' in Abu Dhabi two years ago but suffered a back injury during the Open last summer which kept him out for several weeks.
The Spaniard dropped out of the world's top 100 after a series of missed four cuts in five events upon his return, but is buoyed by his encouraging start to this week's event.
"I hit it very well tee-to-green and 17 greens in regulation with these conditions is very good," Larrazabal said. "I put myself in a lot of birdie chances and that was key.
"I mean, to have always a birdie putt is key in these conditions because you know with these kind of greens, you're not going to hole too many. I holed seven, which is very good."
Watch the Qatar Masters throughout the week live on Sky Sports 4 - your home of golf - or watch without a contract on NOW TV. Live coverage of the second round gets underway from 6.30am on Thursday.