The European Tour remains in The Gulf this week for leg two of its “Middle Eastern Swing”. Alvaro Quiros defends the title in the Commercialbank Qatar Masters presented by Dolphin Energy.
Another strong field will tee it up at the Doha Golf Club with five players in the top-10 on the Official World Golf Ranking in the starting line-up. Lee Westwood is the top ranked player competing and he’ll be looking to improve upon a disappointing showing at last week’s Abu Dhabi Golf Championship where he missed the cut. Westwood will be joined by fellow Englishmen Ian Poulter and Paul Casey while the new World Number six Martin Kaymer will aim to carry on the superb form that saw him claim his fifth European Tour title in Abu Dhabi.
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 1996, water comes into play on six holes and natural outcrops of rock are also a feature.
This will be the 13th running of the Qatar Masters, first won by Andrew Coltart back in 1998. Coltart will be one of eight former champions competing this week. There are a number of exciting entrants including American Kenny Perry, Camilio Villegas of Colombia and the World Cup winning Molinari brothers from Italy.
“Our line up for 2010 features a healthy collection of household golfing names and up-and-coming pros, many of whom will have their eye on Ryder Cup places later in the year,” said Andrew Stevens, chief executive of title sponsors Commercialbank.
Last year, big-hitting Alvaro Quiros came out on top in Doha. The Spaniard fired four excellent rounds in the 60s to beat Louis Oosthuizen and 2006 champion Henrik Stenson by three strokes.
Venue: Doha GC, Qatar
Date: Jan 28-31
Course stats: par 72, 7,388 yards
Purse: €1,761,000 Winner: €294,584
Defending Champion: Alvaro Quiros (-19)
Thursday 28 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 8am
Friday 29 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 8am
Saturday 30 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 9.30am
Sunday 31 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 9.30am
Ian Poulter – The Englishman looks to be right on top of his game and was unlucky to narrowly lose out to Kaymer in Abu Dhabi.
Alvaro Quiros – The defending champion played well last week and an eagle on his final hole in Abu Dhabi may provide a springboard to go on to a repeat victory in Doha.
Louis Oosthuizen – He was runner-up in this tournament last year and finished fifth in Abu Dhabi last week. He has a solid all-round game and should be right up there as the tournament reaches its climax on Sunday.
Key hole: 16th. At just 306 yards it’s eminently driveable for many players in the field. But, it’s a small and awkward target and anything off-line, particularly to the right, could end up in the desrt.
Skills required: Staying error-free. This is a tournament that witnesses low scoring and plenty of birdies. The winner will make few, if any, mistakes over the four days – staying out of the water is key.