Doha: Riding on his decent finish at the Abu Dhabi golf Championship, SSP Chowrasia on Wednesday started his campaign at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters with a steady two-under 70 despite some less-than-happy driving in the opening round, here.
Chowrasia with five birdies against three bogeys was lying tied 36th, while Jeev Milkha Singh, the other Indian in the field shot even par 72 and was tied 70 and needed a good second round to make the cut.
Ricardo Santos from Portugal grabbed the lead with an amazing show of short game as he carded seven-under 65 to take a one-shot lead.
Santos, whose victory in Madeira last May made him the first Portuguese winner for 20 years on The European Tour and earned him the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year trophy, finished day one in front of England's Anthony Wall, Scot Peter Whiteford and Frenchman Alexandre Kaleka.
The 30-year-old from Faro made six unsuccessful trips to The European Tour Qualifying School before coming through the Challenge Tour two years ago and his fourth-placed finish in Abu Dhabi on Sunday has taken him back into the Official World Golf Ranking's top 200.
Wall has had only one victory in more than 400 European Tour starts, but was a joint runner-up in the Irish Open last July and, like Whiteford, did not drop a stroke. World Number Four Justin Rose suffered a one-stroke penalty that left him three shots behind Santos.
Runner-up to Jamie Donaldson in Abu Dhabi last week, Rose had to be content with a four-under 68 after he was penalised a foot from the hole on the short 17th. The Englishman had missed his birdie attempt and was addressing the ball, ready to tap in, when he noticed it moved a fraction.
One of Rose's playing partners was Ryder Cup teammate Martin Kaymer, who matched his 68, while World Number Five Louis Oosthuizen finished with a double-bogey seven for a 71.
Sergio Garcia started his season with a 69, but defending champion Paul Lawrie and Open Champion Ernie Els could do no better than 72 and could well have to improve on that just to survive the halfway cut.