Eddie Pepperell part of three-way tie for the lead at Qatar Masters
By Ali Stafford
Last Updated: 22/02/18 2:36pm
Eddie Pepperell fired a seven-under 65 to be part of a three-way tie for the lead after the opening round of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
Pepperell mixed eight birdies with a sole bogey on a day of low scoring at Doha GC, to join fellow morning starters Gregory Havret and Aaron Rai at the top of the leaderboard.
Edoardo Molinari birdied seven of his final 10 holes to sit in the group on six under, with last year's winner Jeunghun Wang kicking off his title defence with an opening-round 68.
"I surprised myself out there today," Pepperell told Sky Sports. "I hit some quality tee shots, which is the area I feel like I've been struggling again lately. The whole game felt good.
Beginning on the back nine, Pepperell birdied three of his opening five holes on his way to reaching the turn in 32 and picked-up a shot at the second to grab a share of the advantage.
Early pacesetter Richard Bland lost his lead by following five consecutive gains around the turn with three bogeys over his next four holes, as Havret posted five birdies in a six-hole stretch from the sixth to move alongside Pepperell.
Havret holed an eight-foot gain at the 13th and added another at the 16th, matching Pepperell's six-footer at the fifth and birdie at the seventh, to see the pair set the clubhouse target at seven under.
Rai eagled the par-five last to close a blemish-free 65 and also share top spot, with Molinari alongside Oliver Fisher, Alvaro Quiros and Marcel Schneider one off the pace.
2013 champion Chris Wood and Jordan Smith are part of the group on four under, as Europe's Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn opened with a three-over 75.
Watch the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters throughout the week live on Sky Sports. Live coverage continues on Friday from 7.30am on Sky Sports Golf and Sky Sports Main Event.