A strong field has assembled in Doha to do battle for the 20th Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. Martin Kaymer, Alex Noren and Tommy Fleetwood are among those teeing it up.
This will be the 20th Commercial Bank Qatar Masters and an impressive group of players has made their way to Doha for the competition. Major champions Martin Kaymer, Ernie Els, Paul Lawrie and Graeme McDowell will tee it up, so too will European Tour stars Alex Noren, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Chris Wood and, last week’s winner Tommy Fleetwood.
Germany’s Kaymer is looking forward to playing in the event for the first time since 2014. “I like the layout, it’s nice weather and it has produced many great winners,” he said. “Hopefully I have the chance to join that list.”
The first Qatar Masters was won by Andrew Coltart back in 1998. Since then the event has produced some notable champions. In 1999 Paul Lawrie was a winner here before going on to claim the Open Championship that summer at Carnoustie. He won again in 2012. Tony Johnstone secured his final European Tour victory here in 2001. Adam Scott has twice been a winner, in 2002 then again in 2008. Swedish players have also enjoyed some success at Doha – Joakim Haegmann won the event in 2004, Henrik Stenson lifted the trophy in 2006 while Robert Karlsson triumphed in 2010. Chris Wood won in 2013 and Sergio Garcia in 2014.
Last year Branden Grace of South Africa successfully defended his Qatar Masters title. He finished two clear of Rafa Cabrera Bello and Thorbjorn Olesen. Grace won’t be back to try and make it three in a row, although the two men he beat into second place last year will be.
Like many of the courses in this part of the world, the layout at Doha GC is a Peter Harradine design. Opened for play in 1994, water comes into play on six holes and natural outcrops of rock are also a feature.
The weather forecast looks good. It’s set fair with warm sunshine likely to be the order of the day.
Venue: Doha GC, Doha, Qatar
Date: Jan 26-29
Course stats: par 72, 7,400 yards
Defending Champion: Branden Grace (-14)
Thursday 26 – Sky Sports 4 from 6.30am
Friday 27 – Sky Sports 4 from 6.30am
Saturday 28 – Sky Sports 4 from 9am
Sunday 29 – Sky Sports 4 from 8.30am
Rafa Cabrera-Bello – The talented Spaniard was runner-up in this event last year. He loves playing in the desert and showed good form in Abu Dhabi last week before fading on the weekend.
Thorbjorn Olesen – Joint runner-up with Cabrera Bello last year, Olesen has the ability to win any tournament he enters. If he can find his best game he should contend here.
Thorbjorn Olesen swing sequence:
Tommy Fleetwood – Should be flying after a great win last week in Abu Dhabi. The Englishman was seventh in this event last year.
Key hole: 16th. At just 307 yards it’s eminently driveable for most players in the field. But, it’s a small and awkward target with a large rock guarding the front of the green. Expect to see some unpredictable bounces off that outcrop as players go for the carry and fall just short.
Skills required: Finishing strongly. The last three holes are: A driveable par 4, a short par 3 then a reachable par 5. The 16th generally ranks the easiest hole on the course and the 18th the second easiest.