Yorkshire amateur turns the heat on Els and Singh

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The Independent Online

Danny Denison, an amateur from Yorkshire, put the pre-tournament favourites, Vijay Singh and Ernie Els, in the shade as the sun shone on his brilliant opening round at the Qatar Masters here yesterday. The 20-year-old, who is based at Howley Hall Golf Club in Leeds, lies just one stroke off the lead held by Ricardo Gonzalez, of Argentina, and the Swede Henrik Stenson after shooting a five-under-par 67.

Denison, the sole amateur in the event, put local knowledge to good use having been granted entry as his prize for winning the Qatar Open around the same course last month. Playing in his first professional tournament, he had only one bogey, at the last, in a round that included six birdies and no apparent signs of nerves.

"I didn't see my name on the leader board until the 12th and it was a great feeling to see it above some of the others who are here this week," he said. "Going into the weekend, I just wanted to prepare as normal and forget about who was in the field, and thankfully I did."

Singh and Els found the going difficult. The Fijian world No 2 made only three birdies all day in a one-over-par round of 73. Els had a marginally better day in his first competition of 2006. A rusty front nine was followed by three birdies on the way back to leave the South African one under par.

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