Weather forecast for Thursday: The latest prediction is sunny all day and moderate winds. They start at around 6mph for the morning starters but could be double that by 2pm. Perhaps the early wave will have a slight advantage. I'll pick two early and one late.
Nacho can nail it
The return to Doha GC after a three-year absence will be welcome news for Nacho Elvira.
The Spaniard had been a leaderboard regular at the par 72, finishing runner-up in the latest edition there in 2019 and posting sixth place in 2017.
In the latter he was sixth after round one and the halfway leader while go back to his debut at the course in 2014 and Elvira shot a 66 to sit second on the Thursday leaderboard.
More recently, in fact only two starts ago, we saw Elvira burst out of the gates and finish as first-round leader at the MyGolfLife Open in South Africa thanks to a 62.
Last summer he was also FRL at the Cazoo Open, going wire-to-wire to claim his first DP World Tour win.
From his 07.15 tee-time, Elvira looks to have plenty in his favour as he bids for another quick start.
Otaegui has momentum
Adrian Otaegui is in the second group out from the 1st tee on Thursday morning, his three-ball hitting off at 06.25.
Spaniards often do well in the desert and he showed that with a third place at the Ras al Khaimah Championship in the UAE last month.
He shot a second-round 63 there while we last saw him closing with a 66 in the Kenya Open.
On his penultimate start at Doha, Otaegui was the halfway leader after opening 67-66 so he knows how to score on this course too.
Peter Harradine designed both Al Hamra, home of the Ras al Khaima event, and Doha so hopefully Otaegui's recent top three at the former bodes well.
The 29-year-old, who has three European Tour wins, looks a decent first-round leader price at 66/1.
Rozner can reach early heights
My afternoon starter is a player who plays a lot of strong golf in the desert, Antoine Rozner.
The Frenchman is the defending champion this week having won at Education City 12 months ago.
Also a winner of the 2020 Golf in Dubai Championship, he looks to be coming back to some decent form again after progressive finishes of 34-28-25 in the last three weeks.
When Rozner defended in Dubai, he opened with a 65 to lie second after the opening lap so that's a nice little omen even though his bid to go back-to-back in Qatar is over a different course.
But given how well he's played various tracks in the Middle East (also ninth in the 2021 Dubai Desert Classic), he's worth a bet in the first-round leader market at 50s.
Rozner opens his bid at 11.35.