Lawrie takes lead in Qatar despite penalty for dropping ball on marker

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Paul Lawrie had a firm grip on his ball on the 18th hole Saturday, but a fumble on the 10th green cost him a one-shot penalty.
PA Sport and Associated Press

Series: European Tour

Published: Saturday, February 04, 2012 | 11:31 a.m.

DOHA, Qatar -- Paul Lawrie recovered from a penalty for dropping his ball on a marker to shoot a 5-under 67 Saturday and take a one-shot lead over Nicolas Colsaerts after the second round of the Commercialbank Qatar Masters.
Lawrie took advantage of calmer conditions at Doha Golf Club to make six birdies for an 8-under total of 136. The tournament has been disrupted by wind and shortened to 54 holes.

Lawrie birdied the 16th to move into a tie with Colsaerts and then added another on 18 to take the outright lead. Playing in front of Lawrie, the big-hitting Colsaerts also birdied the 18th after a bunker shot that rolled within a foot of the pin to briefly take the lead.
Peter Hanson of Sweden (69) and Ricardo Gonzalez of Argentina (67) are two shots back.

Lawrie is looking to bridge a 13-year gap in Qatar. He was the second winner of the Qatar Masters title in 1999 -- and followed it by becoming British Open champion at Carnoustie that July.

He received his one-stroke penalty on the 10th green after he dropped his ball on his marker – amazingly, for the second week running.

"I'd never done it in my life -- 20 years on tour -- 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 percent sure.

"I wasn't watching and didn't have it on the telecast, so you've got to take the penalty and kick on."

It meant a par rather than birdie there, but he then picked up shots on the 11th, 16th and long 18th, where he chipped to five feet.

The added incentive for Lawrie, currently 78th in the rankings, is that victory would lift him not only into the 64-man field for the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona later this month, but also back into the game's top 50 and in with a great chance of earning a return to the Masters in April. He last played at Augusta National in 2004.

Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano and American John Daly had led the tournament after starting with 66 and 67, respectively, but Fernandez-Castano didn’t have a single birdie in a 75 that dropped him to 3 under. Daly's 73 left him in a nine-way tie for seventh and part of a group that also included Sergio Garcia, England's David Lynn and Anthony Wall, and also Lawrie's compatriot Marc Warren.

Lee Westwood has five shots to make up like Fernandez-Castano after a 70, and among those on the same 3-under mark are Ryder Cup Captain Jose Maria Olazabal and world No. 4 Martin Kaymer.

The 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 made it through right on the limit of 1 over, but those who crashed out included K.J. Choi -- round in 78 after his opening 68 -- Hunter Mahan, Paul McGinley, Colin Montgomerie, Robert Karlsson, Ross Fisher and Henrik Stenson.