Michael Hoey is four shots off leader George Coetzee at the Qatar Masters in Doha after round one. 

The Northern Irishman, continuing his solid early-season after a top-ten finish in Abu Dhabi last week, shot a four-under-par round of 68 to trail the South African, who carded a 64, by four strokes. 

Dawie van der Walt and Steve Webster share second place, one shot behind Coetzee. 

Damien McGrane and Simon Thornton each posted two-under-par 70s.

Paul McGinley shot a 73, Gareth Maybin had a 74, Shane Lowry finished four over on 76, while Peter Lawrie went around in 80.

Meanwhile, Darren Clarke pulled out after injuring a chest muscle on the practice ground.


Coetzee finished second here last year after Chris Wood snatched the title with an eagle on the 72nd hole and was fourth last week in Abu Dhabi, but the 27-year-old admitted he had enjoyed some good fortune.

"I think I'm quite lucky to get away with a couple of the shots I hit today," Coetzee told European Tour Radio. "It was another good putting display to shoot a nice number.

"I think I had 21 putts with a three-putt so that goes to show I can hit the ball a little bit better. I caught some good lies in the desert, I don't even hit it in the rough, just sideways and wide of the rough!

"I'm actually busy working on my swing and it's nice to shoot good numbers when you're working on stuff but I can't wait for things to click because then I might be unstoppable."

Van der Walt, who won the Nelson Mandela Championship in his native South Africa in December, carded a flawless 65 containing five birdies and an eagle as he looked to bounce back from a disappointing finish in Abu Dhabi.

"I think I'm quite lucky to get away with a couple of the shots I hit today"

The 30-year-old shot an opening 68 before fading to finish 71st and said: "I had a terrible week and looked like a blind squirrel, I couldn't do anything right. Although my game didn't feel too bad, so playing well today, I'm not too surprised.

"I'll just try and birdie every hole like I did today. I played solid and I forgot about last week, so just keep the same mind set and do the same things."

A 30-minute delay for morning fog meant three players were unable to complete their rounds, but 70 players were under par after the fog cleared to leave ideal conditions.

Former Open champions John Daly, Paul Lawrie and Ernie Els were all five under, Lawrie holing from 50ft for an eagle two on the 16th and Els holing out from a greenside bunker on the 18th for an eagle of his own.

European number one Henrik Stenson quickly returned to form after a rare missed cut in Abu Dhabi, the Swede carding birdies at his last two holes to complete a 68.

Playing partner Jason Dufner, the US PGA champion, returned a 70 but the third member of the marquee group, former world number one Luke Donald, could only manage a 72 which featured a missed par putt from inside a foot on the fourth.