Brier takes Qatar Masters lead

Sports Network

, Last Updated: 10:34 AM ET

DOHA, Qatar -- Markus Brier fired a six-under 66 to take the lead Friday after two rounds of the Qatar Masters.

Brier had six birdies in a bogey-free round to move to seven-under 137, one stroke clear of 2003 champ Darren Fichardt at Doha Golf Club. It's the first second-round lead for the highest-ranked Austrian since the 2008 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, where he finished tied for 19th.

Brier is in search of his first tournament victory since the 2007 China Open.

Fichardt is alone in second at six-under 138 after recording eight birdies and four bogeys in a four-under 68 round on Friday.

Defending champion Robert Karlsson posted a three-under 69 and is tied for third with Richard Finch (69) and Thomas Bjorn (65) at five-under 139. Bjorn's round was the best of any player on Friday.

First-round leader Retief Goosen is three shots back at minus-four following a round of 71. He's joined in a share for sixth with Thomas Aiken (69) and Paul Lawrie (66).

The anticipated matchup between the world's top two players didn't live up to the hype. It was the first regular season European Tour event of its kind since 1993, but Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer never contended.

While Kaymer barely made the cut with a two-under 70 that put him at three- over par 147 for the tournament, Westwood was one stroke behind at four-over, not good enough to play through the weekend.

Thursday's wind forced a lot of high scores, but the conditions on Friday allowed the players to post many better scores.

Nobody had a bogey-free round on Thursday, but Brier was able to accomplish the feat in his sterling second round.

"I could see in the morning it was a little less wind, and so obviously the opportunities were there," Brier said.

He began on the back nine and birdied the 11th to get rolling. After two pars, he posted birdies on Nos. 14, 16 and 18 to make the turn at five-under.

Brier wasn't as successful on his last nine holes, but he didn't make any mistakes, either. Birdies at the second and the par-five ninth allowed him to get into the clubhouse with the lead.

"I kept the ball in play and holed two or three really long putts, and that obviously makes the difference between a good and very good round. I didn't make mistakes," Brier added.

Fichardt, meanwhile, was all over the place with just six pars on the day. He also started on the 10th and birdied the hole, but bogeyed the 11th. Consecutive birdies at the 12th and 13th were followed by another bogey at the 14th, but his birdie at No. 16 got him to minus-four.

He bogeyed the first hole around the turn, but birdied the second and fourth to quickly atone for the mistake. His final bogey of the day came at the fifth before birdies at Nos. 6 and 9 ended his round at 68.

Bjorn had eight birdies and one bogey on the day, including five straight birdies from the second.

NOTES: Fichardt's 2003 win at this event was the last of his two European Tour victories...This is only the second time Brier has led after two rounds of a European Tour event. He won the BA-CA Golf Open in 2006...Brier is looking for his third career European Tour victory...After only seven birdies were recorded on the four par-three holes Thursday, players posted 59 on Friday.


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