Race to Dubai: Commercialbank Qatar Masters
January 30, 2012 Leave a comment
Race to Dubai: Commercialbank Qatar Master presented by Dolphin Energy
Off we trot around the globe, only this week slightly further up the Arabian gulf for the second of the three event swing in the desert at yet another predictably lush oasis with artificial lakes and an over opulent clubhouse. So, let’s start with slating the title; it’s the European Tours longest titled event – bigger that the Saint-Omer Open presented by Neuflize Odier Bungener Courvoisier (shortened to OBC); it then has one of the longest holes in European Tour golf at 639 yards it’s unsurprisingly a par 5; and even without golf’s CFZ – Mr. Woods, is a pretty well attended outing.
Date: 2nd – 5th February 2012
Venue: Doha GC, Doha, Qatar
This course is described as having teeth – especially when the wind picks up! It measures some 7,388 yards, has eight artificial lakes weaving their way along most of the holes and, with the addition of a punishing rough made up of desert sand, rocks, trees, shrubs and long grass and cleverly bunkered fairways that twist and turn, the utmost accuracy will be of crucial importance. Although uniquely different, this classic links course was designed by Peter Harradine, the same man responsible for the one at Abu Dhabi where last week Robert Rock tamed the Tiger.
Yards: 7,388 yards
Par: Par 72
Headlining the event this week is World Number Two Lee Westwood (10/1 at BlueSq) who is joined by Number Four Kaymer (147/10 at BetFair) and TPC Champion KJ Choi (39/1 at BetDaq). Add a sprinkling of our friendly competitors from across the pond in World Number 10, Jason Day (35/1 at BetFair), Ryder Cup cry baby Hunter Mahon (25/1 at SkyBet) and former US PGA Champion and very low shooting (58 in the 1998 Omega PGA Championship Pro-Am) Shaun Micheel (512/1 at BetFair) and you are squinting into the sun at an interesting golfing shoot out in the desert.
However, there will only be a European winner – if you will permit me to stereotype for a moment. Americans don’t appear to have what it takes to get past the potential security threat of the exceptionally functional keffiyeh’s and the physical (stereotyped) similarity to the amazing self detonating bombers of the surrounding regions. That said, picking one winner from 120 without the American participants is still the challenge we face…
Ones to watch:
This swashbuckling Spaniard showed resurgence to his very best form in the fall of 2011 not least his demolition of fellow tour pros winning by a staggering 11 shots over his home course. It is Sergio Garcia (141/10 at BetDaq) this week who continues to deliver in the sun and fight to regain his rightful Ryder Cup place – and not just drive the Captains golf cart when September comes. A regular top ten finisher in the gulf, including here last year, watch out for continued form from El Nino while he has the wind in his sails…
Three times a winner in 2011 including those unexpected back to back wins in Scotland and Switzerland my glass eye gazes firmly at reigning champion Thomas Bjorn (25/1 at Bodog and BetVictor) as one who will be worth watching this week. Following a career best season, Bjorn delivered an equally inspired performance to tie in third place in Abu Dhabi and looks set to continue a highly productive swing in the Middle East.
Ones to win:
Still struggling to lose the dreadful mid-Atlantic twang but playing exciting competitive golf is Florida’s favourite club wrecker – Ulsterman Graeme MacDowell (18/1 at Coral). With three top three finishes in his last 6 outings he was aided enormously by a hole in one, a holed chip and a ricochet off the grandstand to six feet on 18 in the last 6 holes in Abu Dhabi – MacDowell is a fiery competitor and well used to appearing near the top from seemingly nowhere.
Reigning Dubai World Champion and former Commercialbank Qatar Masters winner Alvaro Quiros (18/1 at Bet365) is again one to win this week – the Middle East is a happy hunting ground for the 28 year-old Spaniard with three of his six European Tour titles having been won in the Gulf, including a triumph here three years ago. Having also finished runner-up on each of his last two visits to the $2.5 million tournament, King Quiros starts as one of the favourites.
Retief Goosen at 20/1 (Ladbrokes) to be first round leader come Thursday night – he’s been one stroke off this in three of his last four outings. And look at Scott Jamieson at 20/1 (also Ladbrokes) for a just getting a top ten finish – he had five from 31 starts in 2011!