Rookie Arnaus shares first-round lead at Qatar Masters

Spanish newcomer Adri Arnaus grabbed a share of the lead with Justin Walters after the opening round of the Qatar Masters in Doha.

Twenty-four-year-old Arnaus reached the final stage of the European Tour Q-School in 2017 before falling just short of gaining his card.

A successful season followed on the Challenge Tour, however, and after finishing second in the Order of Merit he did gain his playing privileges for the 2019 European Tour, making five of his first seven cuts at the start of the year.

At Doha Golf Club on Thursday, Arnaus shot the lowest round of his fledgling career in Europe – a five-under-par 67 in windy conditions – to finish the day tied for the lead.

“It was a lot of fun, honestly,” he said. “The wind picked up early but we kept the ball in play most of the time and gave myself good looks. I was able to take advantage of those, so I’m pretty pleased.

“It was so good being in contention last year, and then at the end being able to close it off at the Challenge Tour Grand Final gave me the belief that I could go on and do it on a bigger stage.”

Starting from the 10, Arnaus birdied his very first hole of the day and added another at the 16th before really getting his round going with an eagle at the par-5 18th.

Arnaus held the sole lead on five under when he picked up another birdie at the second, but he would give the shot back three holes later when he made his only bogey of the day.

A closing birdie on the ninth saw him set the clubhouse target on five under, a mark which only one of the afternoon starters could equal – South African Justin Walters, who joined Arnaus at the top after picking up two birdies prior to the turn and adding three more after in a bogey-free round.

The duo lie one shot clear of seven others – Welshman Bradley Dredge, Scotland’s Richie Ramsay, Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts, Frenchman Mike Lorenzo-Vera, Hugo Leon of Chile and South African duo Justin Harding and George Coetzee.

A whopping 19 players follow a further shot back in a logjam on three under, including last week’s winner in Oman, Kurt Kitayama, Englishman Ross Fisher and Italy’s Edoardo Molinari.