Oliver Wilson and Bradley Dredge lead Qatar Masters
FIRST ROUND LEADERBOARD: -5 O Wilson (Ger), B Dredge (Wal) -4 M Siem (Ger), R Karlsson (Swe), L Westwood (Eng), A Noren (Swe) -3 B Rumford (Aus) -2 S Garcia (Sp), P Hanson (Swe), N Fasth (Swe), C Schwartzel (SA), R Fisher (Eng), C Villegas (Col), R Ramsay (Sco) Selected others: -1 P Casey (Eng) level MA Jimenez (Sp) +1 R Goosen (SA) +2 K Perry (US) +3 I Poulter (Eng), P Lawrie (Sco) +4 C Montgomerie (Sco)
Wilson finished second on four occasions in the 2008 season
Englishman Oliver Wilson shared the lead after the first round of the Qatar Masters following a five-under-par 67.
The 29-year-old, who played in the 2008 Ryder Cup, has been second nine times but is still seeking his first title.
He had six birdies in his first 13 holes in Doha, and was joined at the top by Welshman Bradley Dredge, who birdied five of his final seven holes.
European number one Lee Westwood birdied all three par-fives and is in a four-way share of second one shot back.
A stiff breeze made for challenging conditions, particularly for the morning starters, and only 24 players in the 126-man field broke par.
Mansfield-born Wilson, who has risen steadily in the rankings since joining the tour in 2005 and was seventh on the money list last season, revealed he had made some alterations to his swing during the winter.
"I haven't won so something needed to change so I did a lot of evaluating over Christmas with various thoughts and stats and where I need to improve and implemented a plan," he said.
"I looked at my golf from every angle and discovered that I was not balanced in my swing. It was filmed with high-speed cameras and adjustments have been made. I am happy with the way I am hitting the ball, my distance and flight has changed.
"I hit some really good long irons into the wind, which has been a weakness in the past, and I am really looking forward to the months ahead."
He might have got to six under on day one at the Doha Golf Club having pitched to six feet at the closing par-five 18th, but the putt stayed to the left of the cup.
Dredge finished his round in near darkness, holing from 20 feet to birdie the final hole.
"The forecast was for the wind to die down on the back nine, and it did that and we were fortunate," the 36-year-old said.
Westwood, who missed the cut on his first appearance of the year last week, was far more comfortable with a set of clubs he had used in the close season and had flown out to him for this tournament.
He launched two woods to reach the green at the 589-yard 18th but his long range eagle putt just drifted across the hole.
"I played very solid," Westwood said. "I made one decent putt from 25 feet, missed just two greens and two fairways so I am picking up where I left off from last year."
He was still unhappy with the rule changes implemented at the start of the year, however, which saw "boxed" grooves banned in favour of a more "v" shape in an attempt to reduce the amount of spin.
"The manufacturers are not sure about the testing and the parameters so it's a semi-ridiculous situation. You have the fact that people have to almost check their own clubs to see if they are legal," he said.
"I think it should be like Formula One. You get the three guys at the top of the leaderboard and test their clubs after they have played so you know who is playing within the rules and who is not.
"If they are not going to test them after you play, what's the points of having the rules anyway? Some people could be playing with clubs that just by mistake are illegal."
Robert Karlsson was also four under, aided by a fortuitous eagle at the 15th, his sixth, when an eight-iron from 162 yards cannoned off a greenside bank and into the hole.
Ross Fisher, who finished two under, also carded an eagle when he drove the green at the 16th and holed from 20 feet.
Despite the testing early conditions, Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa had a superb start and was at five under after nine holes, having begun at the 10th.
However, he followed that with four bogeys and a double bogey on the front nine to finish on level par, leaving him critical of the conditions that included an extremely treacherous downhill pin position on the exposed 12th green.
"The rough was too tough for that wind," he said. "Whenever I got into it, all I could do was chip out sideways."
Ian Poulter, resplendent in red and black checked trousers, had a frustrating 75, mixing three birdies in four holes with two double bogeys, while Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie fared even worse, with five dropped shots in his 76.
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