On the event’s return to Doha Golf Club, where Andrew Coltart won the inaugural staging before Paul Lawrie landed a double success, Ferguson opened with a five-under-par 67.
That left the 25-year-old sitting in a share of sixth spot, three shots behind leader Pablo Larrazabal as the Spaniard showed the sort of form that landed him a sixth DP World Tour win recently.
Out in one of the first groups of the day in a two-ball with Frenchman Robin Roussel, Ferguson holed a 20-footer for an opening birdie before then rolling in efforts from 57 feet and 53 feet respectively for birdies at the third and sixth.
“I read them nicely, tried to get the pace right and, if they go in, it’s a little bonus,” said the former British and Scottish Boys’ champion, who signed for seven birdies in total.
“It just so happened that a couple of them went in today, which always feels nice, and hopefully I can keep it up for the next few days.”
Calum Hill marked his return from a four-month injury lay-off with a two-under 70, which was matched later in the day by Craig Howie.
“It was alright,” said Hill, last year’s Cazoo Classic winner, of his eagerly-awaited comeback as he recovered from an insect bite. “Just a shame that I managed to wedge it into the water at the last, but the rest was alright.
“My good shots are good, but it’s the average ones that are still rusty. Even when I was over the ball and trying to focus, the mind was wandering a little bit instead of going through your mental routine. But, all in all, not too bad. I can still play (laughing).”
Howie carded four birdies in his solid start, with David Drysdale on level-par, but it was a tough day for Grant Forrest as he had to settle for a 76, one better than both Marc Warren and Euan Walker.
On the Ladies European Tour, Michele Thomson opened with a level-par 73 to sit just four shots off the lead in the Joburg Ladies Open at Modderfontein Golf Club.
“I had two chip-ins today [at par-3 11th and par-3 3rd] and my short game was really good, though I didn’t hole as many putts as I would have liked,” said Thomson. “I’m pretty happy with level par as it’s quite tricky out there and the pins are all on slopes and tucked away. It plays quite long in places, and I took advantage of some of the par-5s.”
The Aberdonian started the new campaign with a top-10 finish in the Magical Kenya Ladies Open before making an early exit in last week’s Aramco Saudi Ladies’ International.
“I was disappointed last week missing the cut by one,” she said. “I have been working hard to make sure that doesn’t happen again, so I’ve just got to keep it going and see what happens.”
On a day when Spaniard Maria Hernandez set the pace, Jane Turner (77) was next best among the Scots. Rachael Taylor shot 81, one less than Gabrielle Macdonald, Heather MacRae and Laura Beveridge.
Callum McNeill under Hal Sutton’s wing as he chases PGA Tour card
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.