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Rose starts well despite picking up penalty

ESPN staff
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Members of the Manchester United squad watched the golf in Doha © Getty Images
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Qatar Masters leaderboard

World No. 4 Justin Rose enjoyed a positive start to the Qatar Masters, as he carded a four-under par round of 68 to sit just three shots behind the opening day leader Ricardo Santos.

With members of the Manchester United squad - enjoying a brief warm weather break in the Middle East - watching on, Rose continued the good form that nearly saw him win in Abu Dhabi last week to record six birdies and just two bogeys in a solid start at Doha Golf Club.

It was nearly so much better for the Englishman, however, who called a one-shot penalty on himself after his ball moved slightly at address on one of the course's suspect putting surfaces.

"Cut to the chase the greens aren't perfect," Rose said of the incident, which happened at the 17th. "I know I didn't cause the ball to move, but it found a little indent [and rolled] at the same time as I put the club to the ball."

Nevertheless, that left him within touching distance of early pace-setter Santos, whose 65 included just a single dropped shot at the 11th.

"I just played really well, especially my short game," Santos said. "I missed a few shots from the tee but then recovered very well and just kept it like that.

"When you start like that, get to the top of the leaderboard, it's really nice - especially when you play quite well.

"It's really important for me and for Portugal as well. We need to welcome more players and I think it's really important when you play the first season on the main tour and win a tournament, especially in your home country, I think it's very important and means a lot for me.

"I just want to enjoy the season, and I want to go to The Race to Dubai, I think that's my target this season."

Santos's lead is only a slender one, however, with Anthony Wall, Peter Whiteford and Alexandre Kaleka all just a shot behind.

Among the other big names in the field, both Louis Oosthuizen and Jason Dufner were left to rue disasters at the par-five 18th, as they ended up with mediocre rounds of 71. The South African double-bogeyed the last to slip down the field, while Dufner shockingly missed a tiny par putt to drop a needless shot at the final hurdle.

Elsewhere, Ryder Cup team-mates Peter Hanson and Martin Kaymer are both four-under alongside Rose - with Sergio Garcia a shot further behind.

Ernie Els is level par, a finish matched by defending champion Paul Lawrie.

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