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Martin Kaymer
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Across the Pond

Qatar Masters preview

by Dave Tindall
Updated On: March 2, 2020, 10:19 am ET

After a 200/1 win for Sami Valimaki in the Oman Open, the European Tour stays in the Middle East for the Qatar Masters.

Sky Sports commentator Andrew Coltart won the inaugural edition in 1998 and this became a tournament golf fans knew well.

It was always staged at Doha Golf Club and came sandwiched between the big events in Abu Dhabi and Dubai to form part of a big-money Desert Swing.

Things have changed though.

For the last couple of years the Qatar Masters has been moved later in the schedule to sit alongside the Oman Open and prize money and field strengths have suffered as a result.

And to throw gamers and bettors further away from their comfort zone, this year the tournament moves for the first time to Education City GC.

For the record, here are the last ten winners when it was played at Doha GC.

Champions, Winning Scores and Stats

2019 -18 Justin Harding 
2018 -18 Eddie Pepperell 
2017 -16 Jeunghun Wang 
2016 -14 Branden Grace 
2015 -19 Branden Grace 
2014 -16 Sergio Garcia 
2013 -18 Chris Wood 
2012 -15 Paul Lawrie 
2011 -14 Thomas Bjorn 
2010 -15 Robert Karlsson 

 

The Course

Doha was a 7,400-yard par 72 with grainy greens. This week's new venue, Education City GC, is based on the other side of the Qatari capital. It's designed by double Masters winner José Maria Olazábal. There's not an awful lot online about the course, although the official website gives us a few lines: "The 18-hole design by José Maria Olazábal is laid out through landscaped desert and opened fully in 2019. An ancient wadi wall is a feature of the terrain, the riverbed coming into play on several holes on both nines." Par is 71 with the course measuring 7,307 yards according to europeantour.com. Two of the four par 3s measure in at over 210 yards while there are some short par 4s. Overall, it looks like a typical new-build in the desert and, in the belief that courses are designed in the eye of their creator, expect iron play to be rewarded on this Olazabal layout.

 

The Weather

Being able to handle the wind was always a consideration in this tournament and with it still being played in Doha, that holds again. The forecast is for sunshine throughout with temperatures peaking in the mid-to-high 80s on Sunday. It could gust at 15mph on Thursday and Saturday.

 

The Leading Contenders

Martin Kaymer

The German is a fan of desert golf - as shown by how many he turns up to play and how he performs. So far this season: 8th Abu Dhabi, 16th Dubai, 13th Saudi, 10th Oman. His numbers look solid so no reason to think that Kaymer won't be challenging again.

Thomas Pieters

Pieters is also completing the five-tournament set of desert events although his results have been far more patchy than Kaymer's. He was third in Saudi but missed the cut in Oman last week (74-71) and was T37 and T31 in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. MC in this event at Doha last year so there are some negatives.

Robert MacIntyre

The Scot launched his campaign with T8 in Dubai but then missed the Saudi cut. T42 in Mexico doesn't leap off the page but he played nicely for the final 54 holes (68-70-69) after a 76 on day one. Can play well anywhere and he won't mind if the wind gets up.

Matthias Schwab

After a big 2019 (17th on the Race to Dubai), the Austrian hasn't quite got out of second gear in 2020. He's had three finishes in the 40s and T23, a contrast to the three top fours in the final five events of the previous campaign. It will likely click soon but there's a chance gamers could be overpaying for him here.

George Coetzee

South Africans had a great record at Doha GC. Ernie Els and Retief Goosen both won there while, in the last five years, we've seen two wins for Branden Grace and Justin Harding's triumph last time. The grainier grass was part of the reason why so we might need to wait for reports on how similar it is on the new course at Education City. Coetzee has some excellent form at Doha - 2-8-MC-7 the last four years - and is in hot form again right now after a T6 in Oman which followed 8-2 in two events back on his home Sunshine Tour.

Joost Luiten

The Dutchman made a decent defense of his Oman Open crown last week, posting T10 (8th GIR) to register a first top ten of the campaign. He's finished T21 (2017) and T13 (2016) in his last two starts in Qatar and hasn't missed a cut anywhere in the world since July.

Jordan Smith

Smith has a 4-for-4 slate in the desert this season and stepped it up with tied sixth in Oman Open last week, ranking second for Driving Accuracy and third in GIR. He's had some previous good form in Qatar as well with a top six in the 2017 edition.

Ross Fisher

One of the best performers on the Desert Swing so far with a pair of top sixes in Abu Dhabi and Saudi and T10 in last week's Oman Open. Fisher pelted just under 85% of greens in the right number in Oman (3rd) so is hitting his irons well. He's 6-for-8 in this event although has nothing better than T25.

Thomas Detry

Detry returned to something like his hot close-of-season 2019 form when making the top six in Saudi but had to settle for T36 in Oman. It means he's 4-for-4 in the desert although has just one top 30. In this event he's posted 28-39-11 from 2017-2019 so has enjoyed his Doha trips.

Gavin Green

A consistent performer in the Middle East this season, not just making all four cuts but rewarding backers with a run of 21-27-3-18, hitting it long and straight and ranking in the top 18 for GIR in every start. Made his Qatar debut last year and finished T31 at Doha.

Dave Tindall
Dave Tindall is former golf editor at Sky Sports.com in the UK and has been writing betting previews for the European Tour since 1997. He can be reached via e-mail on tindall_david@hotmail.com and on Twitter @davetindallgolf.