Qatar Masters Preview, Picks & Analysis
The Commercial Bank Qatar Masters will move to Education City Golf Club in 2020, marking the beginning of an exciting new era for the tournament, which takes place from March 5-8, 2020.
The event has moved across the Qatari capital from Doha Golf Club for the first time in its 23-year history to Education City Golf Club - a landmark project for Qatar and the world of golf - which offers a revolutionary and holistic approach to growing the game.
Designed by two-time Masters Champion Jose Maria Olazábal, the venue comprises 33 holes split into three courses; 18 holes, nine holes and six holes. The facility also includes a state-of-the-art learning and practice facility housed in the Centre of Excellence and is at the heart of Qatar’s vision to grow the game in the Middle Eastern country.
A number of players in the field have Ryder Cup ambitions and they need to start delivering soon. Eddie Pepperell, Alex Levy, Joost Luiten, Thomas Pieters and Thomas Detry are five such individuals and all will be looking for big week in Qatar. Pieters in particular will be anxious to get himself back into the top 50 in the world rankings soon. He is a hugely impressive player, a brilliant ball striker. But he is dogged by inconsistency. At his very best, the big Belgian can hold his own with anybody.
Much the same can be said of South Africa’s Brandon Stone. When he is good he is world-class, but when he is bad, well…the less said the better.
Reigning champion Justin Harding, who won his first European Tour title at last year’s event, will defend his crown and it comes as no surprise that he is relishing the opportunity to tackle the Education City layout.
“Qatar will always be a special tournament for me as I won my first European Tour title there and I am excited to return to defend it,” he said. “I obviously enjoyed the event last year and I’m looking forward to seeing Education City. The golf course looks amazing and I am sure we will be well looked after.
“My victory last year was life-changing because it meant I could choose which events I wanted to play and this tournament was one of the first on my schedule.”
Michael Braidwood, General Manager at Education City Golf Club said: “It is an honour to welcome the Qatar Masters. The tournament is one of the country’s premier sporting events which attracts a global TV audience and international visitors to Qatar and we are incredibly excited to play a part in its future.
“Golf is a growing game in Qatar and we want to be at the forefront of that growth and help shape the golfing landscape through our principles at Education City.”
A key objective of the club’s community outreach programme is to promote golf among children.
'We go out to schools, but we also have our own junior programs where kids sign up and come at different times of the week to learn how to play golf, and often that is where the parent is already active in golf, said Braidwood.
'The school outreach programme targets children who come from families with no history of golf. Bearing in mind that the majority of the population here comes from countries where golf is not a mainstream sport. So they are getting to touch and feel golf within the school gymnasium for the first time, he added.
Harding joined a pretty impressive list of past winners when he lifted the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters last season. Since it was first included on the European Tour International Schedule in 1998, former winners of the event have included Major champions Ernie Els (2005), Sergio Garcia (2014), Retief Goosen (2007), Paul Lawrie (1999, 2012), Adam Scott (2002, 2008) and Henrik Stenson (2006) and Europe’s victorious 2018 Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjorn (2011).
Two-time major champion Martin Kaymer is hoping to continue his promising start to the season. The four-time Ryder Cup star, who won the 2010 US PGA Championship and 2014 U.S. Open last played in the tournament six years ago and will be hoping another strong performance can bolster his position in the 2020 Race to Dubai.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the golf course at Education City,” said the 35-year-old. “I’ve heard good things and I am always looking at ways to challenge myself and to ultimately improve my game.
“I’ve had a decent start to the 2020 season with some good results in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Saudi. I want to keep the momentum generated in the Middle East going within my game, so it was an easy choice to come back and play in Qatar. It is a popular event among the players, and it is always nice to visit Doha, plus with the new course it adds an extra challenge.”
It was won in 2014 by Sergio Garcia, in 2015 and 2016 by Branden Grace, in 2017 by Jeunghun Wang, in 2018 by Eddie Pepperell and last year by Justin Harding.
Martin Kaymer. German is getting closer
Eddie Pepperell. Needs to get his season on track
Alex Levy. Mercurial talent
Martin Kaymer. It’s only a matter of time
Eddie Pepperell. Time to focus on his game
Alex Levy. At his best, can beat anybody
Joost Luiten. Loves this part of the world
Thomas Pieters. Hugely impressive
Thomas Detry. Ready for a big win, surely
Brandon Stone. Frustratingly inconsistent
Justin Harding. Looking to draw on great memories
Pablo Larrazabal. Showing some fine form
Haotong Li. Excellent all-round game
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