Quiros stakes his claim

When Dave McNeilly, the experienced caddie who used to carry for Padraig Harrington and Retief Goosen, was walking past Jean Van de Velde at last week's Abu Dhabi Championship, the Frenchman stopped him to ask for whom he was now working. "Alvaro Quiros," replied McNeilly. "Ah," said Van de Velde, rubbing his thumb against finger. "Money. Lots and lots of lovely money." That was probably exactly what McNeilly was thinking; indeed what all of the envious bagmen were thinking as they eyed up the shrewd Ulsterman's latest capture.

Ever since he won his first event on the European Tour as a fully fledged member – the Alfred Dunhill Championship in 2007 – the word has been that Quiros is the next big thing. And the emphasis is very much on "big". Certainly his 64 yesterday, that took him to the head of the Qatar Masters here, would have surprised nobody in the know, and nor would the display of titanium thuggery that helped take him there.

The 26-year-old has topped the long-driving charts on both of his seasons on tour so far. In 2008, Quiros averaged nearly 310 yards, which was a staggering seven yards further than his nearest rival. In a profession where admiration usually stops and starts with that technique in the mirror, Quiros is one of the few players who his peers unashamedly go and watch on the range.

He may be 6ft 3in but the physique is more scrawn than brawn, and the club speed he generates is as mes-meric as it is seismic. The ball does not always go straight but, strewth, does it still go, and thereafter the boy from Cadiz is blessed with a touch of the Seves as he scrambles from the far-flung corners that very few have ever had the length or the temerity to visit. Little wonder he is already a favourite of the galleries. Quiros is recognisable for two things he wears – a straw hat and an even wider smile.

Yesterday the recovery powers and the huge grin were in joyous evidence on the par-five ninth after his wildly pulled drive ended halfway up a tree on the edge of the desert. He called the referee for a ruling and was stunned when Andy McFee told him that as the eight-foot tree was staked, he was entitled to a free drop. From there he found a cart path, had another free drop and two shots later came withinan inch of making a birdie.

As he walked off the green, Quiros laughed with McNeilly about the madness of it all – the previous day his second shot to the 18th had bounced off a rock and back on to the fairway as water beckoned – and he proceeded to mock the layout further.

Eight birdies, no bogeys, a few 20-footers and a total of 16 under had hauled him above the halfway leader, Louis Oosthuizen. Quiros is but 18 holes away from a third Tour title and a success that would earn him a berth at next month's Accenture World Match Play in Arizona and take him a long way to securing a place at the Masters in April. With 17 of the world's top 50 in attendance this tournament offers many ranking points, far more precious to the pros than the £296,000 first prize on offer.

"I'm very happy," said Quiros. "I worked hard last week and it looks like the scores are starting to come."

It is difficult to see the winner coming from anywhere else but the first two, although Henrik Stenson four strokes back in third may have something to say about that. As might Sergio Garcia and Lee Westwood, three shots further away on nine under.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home