World number one and two in Qatar
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2011 Qatar Masters | Preview | 02 Feb 2011
The third leg of the four tournament European Tour swing through the Middle East is held this week with the staging of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters at the Doha Golf Club in Doha, the capital of Qatar.
Following on from the Abu Dhabi Championship and last week’s Volvo Golf Champions event in Bahrain this week’s event is again blessed with a high class field including the world number one Lee Westwood and three others from the world top ten. Martin Kaymer, Paul Casey and Steve Stricker up make that select group but the tournament is full of other potential winners.
The Qatar Masters was first played in 1998 when Andrew Coltart won over the impressive Peter Harradine layout. It was not until the tournament incorporated a title sponsor, Commercial Bank, in 2006 however that it began to regularly attract Europe’s best. Of course Europe’s best are now amongst the world’s best and this week’s field compares more than favourably with its opposite on the PGA Tour event in Phoenix this week.
Westwood finished off season 2010 with a bang but clearly needed his outing in Abu Dhabi to get things back on track after a break. Whether his improvement this week will be enough remains to be seen but he has one or two good finishes over this layout to his name and is after all the leading player in the game at present.
Martin Kaymer was brilliant two weeks ago in Abu Dhabi on another Harradine layout winning by eight shots in his first event of the year. He has a liking for Desert golf and has become such a prolific winner that he must surely go well again this week.
Robert Karlsson is the defending champion and also won in this region late in 2010 when winning the Dubai World Championship. Karlsson put together the best final round of the day last week in Bahrain suggesting he is ready to defend his title. His success in this region and his immediate form could make for a lethal combination.
Paul Casey won his first event in twenty months when winning last week in Bahrain but it is a fair bet to suggest that it will not be that long before he wins again. It would be no surprise if he backed up with another great week. Casey finished 5th last year behind Karlsson.
Open Champion Louis Oosthuizen has played this event well on occasions, finishing runner-up to Alvaro Quiros two years ago. Although he missed the cut in Abu Dhabi he was in good form prior to leaving South Africa three weeks ago.
Former winner of this event Retief Goosen sent out signals when third in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago that he was not far from his best. He played well towards the end of last season and is expected to do well.
Alvaro Quiros not only won in 2009 but finished runner-up to Karlsson. He has played solidly in his opening two events of 2011 and with the record he enjoys on this golf course then he must be a chance to extend it even further.
Australians in the field at this stage include former runner-up Brett Rumford, Andrew Dodt and Scott Strange. They will be joined by New Zealanders Michael Campbell, Danny Lee and Mark Brown.