Qatar Masters growing in stature
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2004 Qatar Masters | Preview | 10 Mar 2004
While the prize money for this year’s Qatar Masters has been reduced, the same cannot be said for the quality of the field. This year’s purse is some ten percent below last year’s level in euro dollar terms but the field is just as strong, perhaps stronger.
Played over the Peter Harradine designed Doha Golf Club’s course in the Gulf State of Qatar, the venue has been home to this event since its inception back in 1998 when Andrew Coltart won his first European Tour title just a few days after securing the Australasian Order of Merit title that season. All but one of the previous six winners will be there in Qatar this week, the exception being the 2002 runaway winner Adam Scott who is, of course, focusing much of his attention in the US at present.
David Howell, who seems to have some sort of affinity with the desert having won in Dubai several years ago and shared third last week with Ernie Els in the same event, is likely to start as one of the favourites. He was fourth here last year and so has form on the course and is in good current form, often a good recommendation.
Last week’s 5th placed player, Brian Davis, a recent winner in Australia, is here, as are Thongchai Jaidee the rapidly improving Thai who showed again last week when fifth in Dubai, just what a fine player he is, recent Johnnie Walker winner, Miguel Angel Jiminez and last week’s runner up at the Dubai Desert Classic and third placed finisher here last year, Paul McGinley.
Paul Lawrie, who just four months before his dramatic 1999 victory at Carnoustie, won this event in a canter and is here this week following his 9th placing last week behind O’Meara.
Last year South African Darren Fichardt beat compatriot James Kingston in a nail biter at the first extra hole to win his second European Tour event following a win in Brazil in 2001. Both are back to see if they can repeat the performance this week. Kingston has had a solid start to the season while Fichardt has played only the three events, his best a 6th place in South Africa.
Australasians entered are Peter Fowler, Marcus Fraser, Richard Green, Jarrod Moseley, Peter O’Malley, Brett Rumford, Wade Ormsby, Terry Price and Stephen Scahill.
The purse is 1.2 million euros, the winner to receive 201,000.