Lawrie has key title in his sights

Paul Lawrie is on track at the Qatar Masters to nab a victory that could have life changing consequences.

Paul Lawrie is on track at the Commercialbank Qatar Masters to nab a victory that could have life changing consequences.

The Scot is also looking to repeat his heroics here of 13 years ago as he heads into the final round of the Qatar Masters with a one stroke lead.

Lawrie was the second winner of the Qatar title in 1999 – and followed up on his victory there by becoming Open Champion at Carnoustie in July of the same year.

Now, in an event that on Friday evening was cut to 54 holes because of the long delay caused by winds so strong they made the Doha Golf and Country Club course unplayable, the 43 year old Scot stands eight under par after a sparkling second round 67 that included a one stroke penalty on the tenth green after he dropped his ball on his marker – inexplicably for the second week running.

“I’d never done it in my life – and I’ve been on Tour for 20 years – but last week in Abu Dhabi I was lucky because my caddie saw it and said the marker never moved,” he said.

“This time I wasn’t sure and (senior referee) Andy McFee said I had to be 100 per cent sure.

“I wasn’t watching and you guys didn’t have it on the telecast, so you’ve got to take the penalty and kick on.”

It meant a par five rather than birdie at the hole in question, but the Scot went on to to pick up shots on the 11th, 16th and the long 18th, where he chipped to within five feet and gleefully drained the easy putt

The big incentive on Sunday for Lawrie, currently 78th in the Official World Golf Ranking, must surely be that victory would lift him not only into the 64-man field for the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play in Arizona later this month, but it would also put him back into the game’s top 50 and in with a great chance of earning a return to The Masters Tournament in April and all the other majors and WGC events that will follow.

His last appearance at Augusta National was in 2004.

Big-hitting Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts is in second place after a 68, with Swede Peter Hanson (69) and Argentina’s Ricardo Gonzalez (67) a stroke further back.

Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and American John Daly had led the tournament after starting with a 66 and a 67 respectively, but the Spaniard did not have a single birdie in a 75 that dropped him to three under, while Daly’s 73 left him in a nine-way tie for seventh and part of a group which also included Sergio Garcia, England’s David Lynn and Anthony Wall and Scott Marc Warren.

World No 2 Lee Westwood has five shots to make up like Fernandez-Castano after a 70 and among those on the same three under mark are Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal and world number four Martin Kaymer.

Round of the day was a 65 from defending champion Thomas Bjorn. It followed a 79, however, and so the Dane only made the cut with a stroke to spare on level par.

Graeme McDowell also had a tight squeeze, edging into the weekend right on the limit at one over, but those who crashed out included KJ Choi – round in 78 after his opening 68 – American star Hunter Mahan and Ryder Cup veterans, Paul McGinley, Colin Montgomerie, Robert Karlsson, Ross Fisher and Henrik Stenson.

136 Paul Lawrie (Sco) 69 67
137 Nicolas Colsaerts (Bel) 69 68
138 Ricardo Gonzalez (Arg) 71 67, Peter Hanson (Swe) 69 69
139 James Kingston (RSA) 70 69, Simon Khan 71 68
140 Sergio Garcia (Spa) 72 68, Marcel Siem (Ger) 71 69, Andrew Dodt (Aus) 71 69, Maarten Lafeber (Ned) 72 68, Victor Dubuisson (Fra) 72 68, David Lynn (Eng) 71 69, Jason Day (Aus) 68 72, John Daly (USA) 67 73, Anthony Wall (Eng) 74 66, Marc Warren (Sco) 72 68