Qatar Masters Preview, Picks & Analysis
JORDAN SPIETH and Rory McIlroy may now have bigger fish to fry after their brief excursion to Abu Dhabi, but there is still another stellar field assembled for the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
A huge amount of attention will be focused on Bryson DeChambeau, who made such an impression at the Abu Dhabi championship. The American is 22 years old and will also be playing in the Dubai Desert Classic. He is the current US Amateur champion and would surely have turned professional by now were it not for the fact that that victory earned him an invitation to play in The Masters. He is also taking part in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. This young man finished second at the Australian Masters last year and is a certain star of tomorrow.
He will make his pro bow at the RBC Heritage and, guaranteed several sponsor invitations, will surely win enough money to avoid having to go to tour school at the end of the year. Don't rule out the possibility of this hugely gifted player winning soon. It certainly wouldn't surprise anybody who is familiar with his game and temperament if he were to find himself at the top of the leaderboard again this week.
Of course, some of the European Tour's finest would take it as a personal affront to be beaten an amateur, no matter how good he is, and it is difficult to know where to look first.
Matthew Fitzpatrick is another former winner of the US Amateur, and the young man from Sheffield is already a proven winner. He excelled at the EurAsia Cup under the captaincy of Darren Clarke and is surely a shoo-in for Hazeltine. We should enjoy watching this lad while we can because he will soon be off across the Atlantic to earn his living on the PGA Tour. If DeChambeau needs to tak to somebody about what may lie ahead of him, he could do a lot worse than seeking out young Master Fitzpatrick.
I have a sneaky feeling that Henrik Stenson may just land his first major this season. Royal Troon will suit his game and he would love to be crowned Open champion. For the past four years or so, Stenson has found himself near the top of the world rankings, thanks to some incredibly consistent golf. He is a wild boy with the driver in his hands, but it hardly matters since he is able to propel his three wood the best part of 300 yards. He also has one of the most solid putting strokes in the game, and rarely misses the ones that matter. He is a previous winner of this tournament.
So, too, are Branden Grace and Sergio Garcia, who have something else in common - they have both turned to the claw grip to settle their nerves on the green. Had Garcia's putting ever matched the rest of his game he would have won several majors by now. It looks like the chance may have passed him by, but he has found a way to get the ball in the hole. Grace has always been a streaky putter, but it was a surprise when he decided to apply the claw grip. He is such a wonderful ball striker and has such a terrific attitude to the game that it would be a huge disappointment if his putting was to cost him the chance of becoming the latest South African to win a major.
Strangely enough, Louis Oosthuizen, another South African who is also in the field, has also had his moments on the greens. But at least nobody will ever be able to take away from him The Open title he won at St Andrews in 2010.
One player with no such worries on the putting surface is Chris Wood, another former champion in Qatar. He has only two professional wins to his name but the second came last year, to go with his seven top 10 finishes. Almost every time he competed in 2015 he looked like he could win. He loves this part of the world, and will be worth watching this week. “I’m really happy to return to the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters because I had to miss it last year because of my wrist injury. I’ve been playing well since returning from injury and I was really happy to win in Austria, which showed me that I could win again,” Wood said. “I’ve played really consistently since then and was proud to earn my place on the EurAsia Cup team. Now I’m looking forward to going back to Doha, as it’s a course I can do well on and I’m playing well enough to have another run at the trophy. Winning there remains one of the highlights of my career.”
Others worth keeping an eye on are Bernd Wiesberger, the Austrian who won his third European Tour title at the Alstom Open de France last June, the evergreen Soren Kjeldsen, 40, who captured his fourth last May at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and Kristoffer Broberg, the 29-year-old Swede who won his first title at the BMW Masters in Shanghai, beating US Ryder Cup star Patrick Reed in a playoff.
Qatar Masters Betting Tips
Henrik Stenson. The Swedish machine
Matthew Fitzpatrick. Will pick up his second win soon
Chris Wood. Finally free of injury
Henrik Stenson. A good bet for a first major this year
Matthew Fitzpatrick. Getting better and better
Chris Wood. Loves this place
Sergio Garcia. Seldom not in the running
Louis Oosthuizen. best swing on tour
Branden Grace. If he putts well, watch out
Kristoffer Broberg. A late developer
Bernd Wiesberger. Great ball striker
Bryson DeChambeau. A professional in everything but name
Marc Warren. Good time to rediscover his best form
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