Lawrie's chance for third Qatar Masters
BY Bruce Young | European PGA Tour | 2013 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters | Preview | 22 Jan 2013
From Abu Dhabi in the south of the Persian Gulf the European Tour heads 300 kilometres north and west to Doha in Qatar for this week’s Commercial Bank Qatar Masters at the Peter Harradine designed Doha Golf Club.
First played in 1996 when won by Andrew Coltart, the event has steadily grown in both status and prize-money since and will this year be played for €1.9 million, the second highest purse ever offered for the event.
The involvement of the Commercial Bank for the first time in 2006 allowed the event to take on a new standing in the game and provided opportunities for the European Tour’s leading players to get involved.
This year’s event sees the world number four, Justin Rose, and the number five Louis Oosthuizen tee it up as favourites in terms of their standing in the game but there are many others who claim the right for consideration as genuine chances.
The defending champion Paul Lawrie is chasing his third Qatar Masters title having won by eight shots in 1999 and by four shots in 2012. Lawrie was not so good last week in Abu Dhabi but he had played well the week before at the Volvo Champions event and given his liking for the Doha Golf Club layout he should do well.
Rose comes off the back of a very good tournament last week when he finished runner-up in Abu Dhabi in what was his first event of the year. The issue for Rose fans this week is that he has played this event only once and missed the cut when he did.
Oosthuizen on the other hand has a solid record in the event including when runner-up in 2009. His chances look very good.
Ernie Els is a previous winner and while he has been average in his only two starts in 2013 he could improve sharply. The last time he played the event was in 2009 but he finished 3rd in 2007 and won in 2005.
Sergio Garcia has recorded four top tens in six starts in the event and while this will be the Spaniard’s first start in 2013 his form towards the end of last season was outstanding, winning in Johor and finishing 4th in Thailand.
Jason Dufner again showed in Abu Dhabi that foreign courses and foreign lands are no concern to him. He finished 9th there in what was his first time to the event and this week he again debuts. He has been one of the game’s most consistent performers over the past eighteen months and there is no reason to believe he won’t so well again.
Martin Kaymer has not played this event as well as he has Abu Dhabi but he has been playing so well in recent months that he must be considered. The German was a very good 6th last week in Abu Dhabi and of course won the Nedbank Challenge late in 2012.
Henrik Stenson has one of the best records in this event and the manner in which he has been playing of late then he could well continue that record this week. Stenson has been a winner and three times a runner-up in Doha.
Thorbjorn Olesen is the rising star of the European Tour, finishing runner-up last week and at the Alfred Dunhill Links and winning in Sicily early in 2012. He has risen rapidly to the number 42 position in the game and although he has not played well in this event to date he is a much improved player.
The Australasian contingent includes Marcus Fraser, Richard Green, Brett Rumford and Andrew Dodt while New Zealander Michael Campbell gets another chance to continue his recent improvement.
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