The second event of the European Tour’s Desert Swing, the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, gets underway this Wednesday.
Most players who contested last week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship have made the trip to the Doha Golf Club, and with other notables like Louis Oosthuizen also taking part, it promises to be an exciting week.
The course, at 7,412 yards, isn’t the longest, but can become treacherous if the wind gets up. Last year, for example, play was suspended because of high winds and a subsequent sand storm.
Doha Golf Club also features a plethora of water and some relatively thick rough, heightening the importance of good ball striking.
The greens are also extremely large, so good lag putting and pace control will be vital for those who harbour intentions of contending.
Paul Lawrie won the tournament by four shots last year (and also in 1999), but such is the quality of the field he isn’t considered as one of the ten favourites this time around.
World number four Justin Rose and world number five Louis Oosthuizen lead the betting this week, but both are less than 10/1 with Ladbrokes. With such a strong field I’d be expecting slightly better, and even though both have great chances, I’ll be looking elsewhere.
Martin Kaymer, at 12/1 with Ladbrokes, looks a good bet this week. The German won the Nedbank Golf Challenge at the end of 2012 and put in a strong showing at last week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, where he finished in a tie for sixth. He was also 8th in the Greens in Regulation statistics despite finding only 41.1% of the fairways. He is very strong in the Middle East and finished 9th in Qatar last year.
I’m convinced that George Coetzee, at 25/1 with Ladbrokes, is going to break his European Tour duck soon, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was this week. He finished ninth last week and his form over the past few months has been excellent. In Abu Dhabi, he was the fourth longest driver and eighth in Putts Per Round, and if he can find more fairways this week he’ll be a force to contend with.
Much like Coetzee, I’m sure Paul Casey, at 33/1 with Ladbrokes this week, will return to the winner’s circle sooner rather than later. He ended last season strongly, and has made a solid start to his 2013 campaign. Last week, he finished in a tie for 23rd, preceded by a top 20 at the Volvo Golf Champions. What’s more, he hasn’t come outside the top 25 in his last six European Tour starts. Look for Casey to continue his progress at the Qatar Masters.
Richie Ramsay, at 66/1 with Ladbrokes, is worth considering this week. The Scotsman has become an extremely consistent performer in recent times and hits a lot of fairways and greens, something that’ll be important this week. He played some good golf for three rounds in Abu Dhabi, and finished ninth the week before at the Volvo Golf Champions. If he putts well, Ramsay could challenge this week.
David Howell, at 80/1 with Ladbrokes, seems generously priced this week. Granted, he suffered a heartbreaking four-putt from five feet in Abu Dhabi to fall out of contention, but he was in a share of the lead at that point. He is usually exceptional from within five feet and, as he later tweeted, there were a lot of positives to take from the week. It all depends how he responds mentally, but we know his game is in good shape.
Commercial Bank Qatar Masters advised bets:
4pts outright Martin Kaymer at 12/1 with Labrokes
2pts each way on George Coetzee at 25/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Paul Casey at 33/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on Richie Ramsay at 66/1 with Ladbrokes
2pts each way on David Howell at 80/1 with Ladbrokes