Record nine players share Qatar Masters lead

Bradley Dredge was joined at the top by Mikko Korhonen, Nacho Elvira, Andy Sullivan, Thomas Aiken, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Jeunghun Wang, Jaco Van Zyl and Jorge Campillo.

Dredge Qatar Masters

Opening day leader Bradley Dredge shot a par round of 72 and was joined by a cluster of players at eight-under-par to top the leaderboard.   -  Getty Images

Nine players shared the lead in the Qatar Masters on Friday, a record number for any European Tour event after two days of competition.

Opening day leader Bradley Dredge shot a par round of 72 and was joined by a cluster of players at eight-under-par to top the leaderboard.

Also in the group was Mikko Korhonen, Nacho Elvira, Andy Sullivan, Thomas Aiken, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Jeunghun Wang, Jaco Van Zyl and Jorge Campillo, who shot a five-under par 67 in blustery conditions.

The bunching did not stop there though as there are a further seven players joined on seven-under-par and another 10 just one shot further back, including former champion Ernie Els, almost guaranteeing a tight finish over the weekend.

"I feel very happy," said Spain's Nacho Elvira.

"I had two good rounds in a row and today was a bit tougher with the wind. I'm very happy with a 69 today."

Englishman Andy Sullivan admitted he enjoyed the increasingly windy conditions and said he was "ready to attack at the weekend".

Perhaps ominously for the leaders, one of those clumped among the chasing pack is the European Tour's man-in-form, Alex Noren. The Swede hit a 70 to follow his opening 68 and finish on six-under-par, even though he was unconvinced by his form.

"It was quite a tricky day, I didn't maybe play my best all the way round," said Noren.

"But two-under-par heading into the weekend, anything can happen."

But perhaps the day's biggest winner though was England's Chris Paisley, who won $150,000 after getting a hole-in-one at the par-three 17th. That cheque for a single shot is equal to the second biggest payout of his career, said the 30-year-old.

"I should do it more often," he joked afterwards. I didn't actually know there was a prize until after."

The hole-in-one also helped Paisley, the World No. 271, finish with an eagle and two birdies to end on three-under and on the right side of the cut by just one shot.

Also scraping through to the weekend was Graeme McDowell.

The former US Open champion finished on three-under-par after hitting a second round 75. It was especially disappointing for the Northern Irishman as he managed to birdie his first two holes for a share of the lead, but quickly faded and instead battled only to ensure he made the final two rounds.

One player who did not make the cut was Tommy Fleetwood. The winner of the Abu Dhabi Championship last week, the Englishman hit a second successive 73 to finish two over and head home.

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