A violent sandstorm has forced play to be postponed in the first round of the Qatar Masters golf tournament in Doha.

Play was suspended after only about half of the 150-man field started the tournament. High winds created a desert sandstorm that reduced visibility and made play impossible.

When play was called off South Africa's James Kingston had the early lead at 3 under par. Four players: Sweden's Fredrik Andersson, Phil Golding of England, Sweden's Henrik Stenson and Nicolas Vanhootegem of Belgium, were tied at 2 under par.

The players will resume the first round early Friday and then play the second round. Several of the world's top players decided not to take part in the event because of the threat of war in Iraq.