Santos takes 1-shot lead in Qatar

Updated 23 January 2013
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Santos takes 1-shot lead in Qatar

DOHA: Ricardo Santos of Portugal made five birdies on his back nine to finish with a 7-under 65 yesterday in the opening round of the Qatar Masters, taking a one shot lead over Anthony Wall and Peter Whiteford.
Santos, the European Tour’s rookie of the year in 2012, had a total of eight birdies to go with a lone bogey on his second hole. Coming off a fourth-place finish at the Abu Dhabi Championship on Sunday, the 30-year-old golfer from Portugal is looking for his second win on the European Tour.
“Well, I just played really well, especially my short game,” the 183rd-ranked Santos said. “Today I missed a few shots from the tee but then recovered very well and just kept it like that.”
Wall of England shot a bogey-free round that included four birdies on the front nine and a final birdie on the par-5, 18th. Whiteford, of Scotland, collected six birdies in a bogey-free round.
“You don’t often get Qatar with no wind, so took advantage of it and actually hit the driver for the first time better to give myself a few chances,” Whiteford said. “It was one of those days it could have been a lot better almost. A lot of positive stuff, hit a lot of good putts.”
Six players including Simon Khan of England were another stroke back in a tie for fifth, while another 13 were a further shot behind.
Among those were two of the players in the marquee group of the day — former top-ranked Martin Kaymer and fifth-ranked Justin Rose, who just missed out on a playoff Sunday in Abu Dhabi and finished second. Fourth-ranked Louis Oosthuizen, coming off a victory in the Volvo Champions, finished with a 71 after an errant approach shot and some poor putting led to a double bogey on the 18th.
Rose was penalized a shot on 17 when his ball moved on the green just before he was about to putt.
Kaymer had the topsy-turvy round of the group, holing out from 150 yards for an eagle on the fourth but then bogeying 18 when his chip from thick rough came up short and he missed a 10-foot par putt. The German struggled with his game for much of last year but has turned it around since playing a starring role in Europe’s Ryder Cup victory.
“Got lucky with one shot and made eagle on a par 4, and then it was very difficult to make putts,” said Kaymer, who also had three birdies down the stretch. “The greens are a little of a struggle this week, and obviously in the afternoon they don’t get better, but overall 4 under is a good score.”
Several Manchester United players — including Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes — were in the gallery, as the team is training in Qatar.
“I had hold of my 3-wood into 18 and I sort of looked up to the balcony and I saw all these guys, many wearing black, so I knew it was them, although Wayne was in a red shirt,” Rose said. “That definitely added a bit of focus going into my last shot into 18 as I tried to impress the lads. It was a nice way to finish.”


BMW’s Antonio Felix da Costa crowned champion at Saudi Arabia's Ad Diriyah E-Prix

Updated 32 min 8 sec ago
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BMW’s Antonio Felix da Costa crowned champion at Saudi Arabia's Ad Diriyah E-Prix

  • The Portuguese driver held on for victory ahead of Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne and Jerome d’Ambrosio in the Mahindra car
  • Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi had the best start on the grid

AD DIRIYAH, Riyadh: Antonio Felix da Costa praised his BMW garage but said there is still a lot of work for him and the team to do in this year’s Formula E season after winning the inaugural Ad Diriyah E-Prix on Saturday.

Da Costa was on pole from the beginning of the race and led away from the line, despite lining up at the front of the grid pointing toward the outside wall at a dusty and overcast Ad Diriyah circuit.

The Portuguese driver held on for victory ahead of Techeetah’s Jean-Eric Vergne and Jerome d’Ambrosio in the Mahindra car.

Da Costa told Arab News that the new “cooler and futuristic” Gen 2 car gives drivers more power, stability and grip, and that there was “a lot to take in” during the race.


“It is a new car, a new track, a new way of racing, (with) ‘Attack Mode’, and I got the ‘Fan Boost’ for the first time, so there were a lot of things to do and as a team and we executed so well, so I think that is why we won today because we were not the quickest car but we just had a perfect race.

“It is amazing, it’s been really tough and long months of work, but I am really happy with that,” da Costa added.

“We definitely have some work to do as the two Techeetah cars were really fast, and even with (Vergne’s) drive through penalty, he was right there at the end.

“But it’s a good start and we’ll keep working on that and try to keep it going,” he added.

When asked about BMW being involved in Formula E as a factory team for the first time, da Costa said: “It hasn’t been easy the last two years, but as I said it has been a lot work between Indianapolis with Andretti and Munich with BMW, it is great to see and I am so happy for everyone back in Munich.”

Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi had the best start on the grid after he blasted by Jose Maria Lopez around the outside of the first corner from third place.

The front four pulled away from the rest of the pack, before Vergne — who started the race in fifth — passed Lopez on lap one of what would become a 33-lap race, with his teammate Andre Lotterer also getting past the Geox Dragon driver.

As da Costa consolidated his lead, Vergne was closing in on Buemi, eventually passing him in a great move around the outside on lap nine. The Frenchman then set about reeling in da Costa, with the Portuguese offering fierce resistance.

Vergne was then forced to serve drive-through penalties – just after he had used his first “attack mode” – for going exceeding the permitted power while using his “re-gen,” which put paid to him getting a victory.

Reigning champion Vergne, while impressed with the venue, was philosophical after the race.

“I was really hungry for a victory today, but the qualifying in the morning did not go as planned.

“Unfortunately, it was a step down from where I wanted to be, I wanted to win this one. 

“I had a fantastic car, it was incredibly fast, but a big congratulations to the BMW guys and Antonio, it was a well-deserved victory.

“What I will take as a positive from this weekend is that we have a strong team and a very strong car and I am very motivated.

“Going forward, we just need to make sure we don’t make the same mistakes that cost us the win today, but it’s a very encouraging first race and I’m looking forward to Marrakech now.”

On his drive through penalty, he said: “Yes, I had quite a few overtakes on the outside, on the inside, but it was a fun race, I honestly had a lot of fun. 

“I’m content with P2 today, and hoping to keep this package (on the car) and hopefully get some victories.”
Meanwhile, third-placed d’Ambrosio was delighted with his finish to the race.

“I am super happy, it was a great first race with Mahindra and a great start to the championship, I am lucky to be part of such a great team with some great people.

“I have come from two difficult years, so it’s great to start this new relationship with the team in this way. We worked very hard in the past few months to be ready, I think we were very fast but at the end of the race I didn’t have the confidence in the braking.

“But it makes a great to start to the season, with the podium and banking the points, and we’ll see what happens now.”

When asked about the new “attack mode” in Formula E, he said: “It is great, I actually wasn’t supposed to use it at that point of the race (when I did), but I had a good feeling and I saw Techeetah use it and start to build a gap, so I went for it and when the safety car came in I used it again.”