Incredible 60 foot putt helps Rozner win title

Doha (Qatar): Antoine Rozner hit an incredible 60 foot putt on the last to win his second European Tour title at the 2021 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters on Sunday.

The Frenchman entered the final 18 holes on a calmer day at Education City Golf Club three shots off the lead.

“Winning a golf tournament is so rare – to win twice in just a few months is unreal. I’m just very happy with the way I got it done today in such a dramatic fashion, it’s amazing. I’m very happy,” he told europeantour.com

“The Ryder Cup in Paris… I was there every day. That’s a dream for me, to compete in one. If I can get it done this year – there is still a long, long road to go. It should be a goal. It will be, for the rest of the season, a goal for me. There is still a long road to go.”

India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar and South African Darren Fichardt, who won the 2003 edition, finished alongside Italy’s Guido Migliozzi a shot off the lead.

Overnight leader Fichardt put his approach at the first inside ten feet for an opening birdie and briefly led by three, but Rozner and Migliozzi made rapid strides on the leaderboard.

Fichardt signed for a level par 71 while Bhullar fired a closing 69, adding three birdies and two bogeys to that closing gain.

McEvoy carded a 68 and Donaldson registered a 70 to sit a shot ahead of England’s Chris Paisley and South African Brandon Stone, who both carded 70s of their own.

Belgian Thomas Detry, Dane Joachim B. Hansen, American Kurt Kitayama and Swede Niklas Lemke finished five shots off the lead.

South African Fichardt leads on third day

By Armstrong Vas

Doha (Qatar): Darren Fichardt emerged as the sole leader on the penultimate day of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters at Education City Golf Club on Saturday.

The South African will take a one-stroke lead into the final round as he bids to win the Mother of Pearl trophy for the second time in Qatar.

The five-time European Tour winner, who won this event in 2003 put all his experience to good use in very difficult windy conditions to card a 70 which included a double bogey and two further dropped shots.

“When I started today, I couldn’t get the pace right, the greens sped up significantly with the wind. I was three-whacking like it was going out of fashion, on every green. Luckily, I figured my swing out on the range before I teed off,” Fichardt told europeantour.com

The 45-year old’s first win in Qatar came 18 years back at the Doha Golf Club and come Sunday he will have a go at the tile at the ECGC.

England’s Jack Senior, two-time winner on the European Challenge Tour, was on the second spot and will be looking for a maiden European Tour victory on Sunday.

“Then I got to the par five 13 – that’s a hell of a par five, plus wind. I walked off there making a double and felt a bit out of sorts,” he said.

On windy day just four players were under par as Senior carded a level par 71 to be in the second spot.

India’s Gaganjeet Bhullar carded a 68 at five under to move up 28 places and will go into the final day sitting in the third spot. He is a shot clear of Welshman Jamie Donaldson, Dane Joachim B. Hansen and Frenchman Antoine Rozner.

Denmark’s Winther takes lead on a windy second day

By Armstrong Vas

Doha (Qatar): Jeff Winther made the most of the perfect early morning conditions at the Education City Golf Club to take the lead on the second day of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters on Saturday.

The Dane carded five birdies and a single bogey to post a second successive 67 and get to 8-under par in the European Tour event.

Winther, who is looking for his maiden European Tour title, started proceedings at 6.45am but as the day progress the wind picked up pace making life on the course difficult for the others golfers who had late tee off’s.

Finland’s Kalle Samooja and South African Darren Fichardtcame close to joining Winther atop the summit but unable to stay put with two late bogeys shattering their plans.

Besides Samooja and Fichardt, on six under at the second spot were American Kurt Kitayama, Welshman Jamie Donaldson and England’s Jack Senior.

Play was suspended due to fading light at 5.40pm local time, with Joakim Lagergren, who is four under with three holes still to complete, one of 15 players who must return early on Saturday.

On Friday morning, Winther began the day three shots off the pace and remained at four under as he reached the turn but shifted gears thereafter to set a pace which no other late starters could keep pace with.

Winther admitted he was fortunate to avoid the worst of the wind.

“The wind is quite severe now. We were lucky. On the last three or four holes it was really starting to pick up. Playing around 15-20 yards further, you’ve got to be on your game,” said Wionther, who is currently in 61st place in the Race to Dubai.

“The greens are very nice. I don’t want to jinx myself but I think they are easy to putt on. They are very true. The condition is the same as last year, it’s beautiful.”

I’m a lot more focused on my targets than swings: Law

By Armstrong Vas

Doha (Qatar): David Law admitted focus played a key role after he ended the opening on top of the leaderboard Commercial Bank Qatar Masters here at the Education City Golf Club course on Thursday.

“I’m a lot more focused on my targets rather than my golf swings. Over the last couple of seasons I’ve been guilty of asking myself ‘why I’ve been hitting bad shots, instead of just going on to hit the next one’,” said Law, who carded seven birdies to take a one stroke lead.

The 29-year-old Scotsman, who has one European title under his belt having won the ISPS Handa Vic Open in early 2019, carded 7-under par 64.

“I’ve been guilty over the last few weeks when I’ve had decent rounds going but not finishing them off. I was semi-conscious of sticking with it and trying to go low. I was really happy with how I stuck to my routines, my processes and I came out of it with a good score,” Law added.

Four other players Kalle Samooja of Finland, Richard McEvoy of England, Hennie Du Plessis of South Africa and Nino Betasio of Italy follow the leader with an identical 6-under par 65.

“That was probably one of the easiest 65s I’ve ever shot. My game hasn’t been great up until now. Three weeks in the Middle East at the start of the year wasn’t great, but there were signs of some good golf going on,” McEvoy said.

Thomas Detry of Belgium, Garrick Higgo, of South Africa, Joakim Lagergren (Sweden) and Joachim B Hansen (Denmark) were one stroke behind the second-placed group.

“A good start was pretty important. If you’re too many shots behind it’s hard to catch when the wind picks up,” said Samooja.

Defending champion Jorge Campillo began his title defence with a four under par round of 67 along with Toby Tree of England, George Coetzee of South Africa, Pedro Figueiredo of Portugal, Kurt Kitayama of USA, Maximilian Kieffer of Germany, Scott Jamieson of Scotland, Gaganjeet Bhullar of India, Jeff Winther of Denmark, Chris Paisley of England, and Fabrizio Zanotti of Paraguay.

Scotland’s Law leads by a shot on Day 1

By Mohammad Amin

Doha (Qatar):Scotland’s David Law was off to a confident start as he attempts to to join fellow countrymen Paul Lawrie and Andrew Coltart on the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters roll of honour.

On a relatively hot but calm Thursday, the 29-year-old picked up five birdies in his opening eight holes in the first round to top the leaderboard by a shot at the end of the day.

The Scott hasn’t had a top 10 finish recently, but had a good putt on the 16 and 17 to take the lead.

Defending champion Jorge Campillo also had an impressive start with 4-under-par.

The 34-year-old chipped in a birdie on the seventh. The Spaniard came on to the championship last year on the back of three consecutive missed cuts.

Campillo did the same this time, but he simply loves the 18th green, this is where he putted so well to defeat David Drysdale to win his maiden Qatar Masters last year.

“I feel good. I had a good practice last few weeks. I played solid. I played good today,” said the Spaniard. “The greens are perfect and rolling good.”

2018 champion Eddie Pepperell started off nicely with a four-straight birdies and finished with a round of 69, two under par.

Finland’s Kalle Samooja, who competed here last year, had a top three finish, six on the par 65 same as Englishman Richard Mcevoy.

From sand to green: Jeham has come a long way

By Armstrong Vas

Doha (Qatar): Qatari amateur golfer Jeham Al Kuwari, who will tee off on Thursday at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters has come a long way on his golf journey from his baby steps on the sand golf course at Dukhan to the greens of Doha Golf club (DGC).

The 28-year-old is one of the three Qatari amateur players who will feature in the four-day $1.5m event.

Reigning Qatar Open champion Ali Al Shahrani and Saleh Al Kaabi are the other two Qataris in the fray.

Jeham is keen to prove a point or two in the competition after having made his European Tour debut two years ago.

“I lived in Dukhan and started playing as a 13-year-old at the Dukhan Golf Course which is sand course. One of the coaches asked me to come and train at DGC. Since then I have been playing there,” said Jeham.

He found success at last month’s Qatar Open Amateur Championship, where he finished third.

In fact, the competition was a great opportunity for him to prepare for the big event.

“This is my second European Tour event. I am very excited. We have practiced hard for a month before the Qatar Open. We also a ten-day closed camp before the amateur event,” said Jeham, who is employed at the Aspire Academy.

The Qatari golfer is well aware of the herculean task which awaits him. “The realistic approach for me will be to make the cut and qualify. My preparation is good. I played well at the Qatar Open. I’ve been working hard on many aspects of the game and I hope to improve my skills,” he said after a training session at the DGC on Wednesday.

Jaham will be up against some of the top names that includes four-time European Tour winner Thomas Pieters, Thomas Detry, Andy Sullivan, Wade Orsmby, Brandon Stone and Aaron Rai.

Pro-Am event: Commercial Bank Qatar, ECGC take top honours

By Armstrong Vas

Doha (Qatar): Commercial Bank Qatar (CBQ) and Education City Golf Club (ECGC) won the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters Pro-Am events on Wednesday ahead of the European Tour event which tees off at the same venue from tomorrow (March 11).

The CBQ squad, which won the event held in the evening session, comprised of professional John Catlin, Euan Harvey, Benjamin Coleman and Ali Bashir.

ECGC comprising of professional Antoine Rozner and amateurs Paul Kelly, John Mills and Theo Scheepers finished second followed by

Earlier in the morning session, the ECGC claimed the top honours. The winning combination included professional Oliver Fisher, Martin Harvey, Abul Rashid Mordiffi and Mohamed Al Mansour.

The CBQ team, which came second, featured former Dutch international footballer Nigel de Dong besides professional Dean Burmester, Tarik Al Al Aloosy, Nasser Al Kaabi.

The Qatar Golf Association team, which had Indian professional Shubhankar Sharma, finished third. Other members included Nada Mir, Uzma Mir and Gregory Gomis.

It’s different being defending champion, says Campillo

Doha (Qatar): The 24th edition of Commercial Bank Qatar Masters gets under way at the fabulous Education City Golf Course today.

The competition will feature Wilco Nienaber, Shaun Norris, Brandon Stone among others while five former champions including Jorge Campillo will be looking forward to add another title in the Qatari capital.

Here’s what they said a day before the tournament:

Jorge Campillo: “It’s different (being defending champion), I’ve never been in this position before because the other tournament I won (Trophée Hassan II) I couldn’t defend it. It’s new for me. I have had most of the attention this week, but I’m fine with it. It’s nice to be the defending champion.

“I’ve had a long time to think about the win. I was playing good and was ready to go to India to try and win another golf tournament, but that was stopped because of the pandemic. It was hard to come back after the break.

“The play-off stands out the most. It was such a great play-off. Besides all the putts I made, I hit some good shots too. David played great and I was glad I made those putts to keep up in the play-off.”

David Drysdale: “I’m still trying hard to win. That’s the main goal – the reason I practice and keep going. Last year here was a great opportunity, and those opportunities haven’t come along as much as I’d have liked in my career, but I’m trying to get in that position again. I know I can hit some good golf shots under pressure. The plan is to practice and give myself a chance to have a go on the back nine on Sunday. I’m going to have a go if I’m given an opportunity.

“I won a couple of Challenge Tour events a while ago, but last year if it wasn’t for Jorge Campillo’s ridiculous putting I might have had one on the European Tour – hats off to him but I also hit a lot of good golf shots.”

Rasmus Hojgaard: “I struggled at the WGC at The Concession, I think I got caught up in thinking about the result there. It’s a big event, you want to play well. I was thinking more about that instead of producing good golf shots. That will be my focus this week.

“I want to win as much as possible, but it’s more important that I keep improving my game and that should produce good results and more wins, I hope. It feels good to be back in Qatar, it’s a good course and I enjoyed playing it last year.”

Eddie Pepperell: “I haven’t done a great deal at home. I’ve been kindly allowed to practice, but I haven’t done much in the way of putting or chipping or played once – so we’ll have to see. But my body feels good and it’s just nice to get away from home for a week to Qatar.

“I was never really much of a goal-setter but I’m having to remind myself that I’m a golf professional. To have so much uncertainty, it’s wearing me down a bit. I’m just looking forward to getting some sort of normalcy back and then hope these things will come back to me. The longer you spend out of that habit the harder it can be to get back into it. I need to get competitive again, become a golf professional again and make the best of the rest of my career.”

Desert Swing: European Tour resumes with Qatar Masters tomorrow

By Mohammad Amin

DOHA (Qatar):The 24th edition of Commercial Bank Qatar Masters gets under way at the fabulous Education City Golf Course tomorrow.

The Qatar Masters is being held in its originally intended schedule, that will also see the resumption of the European Tour in the fourth part of the Desert Swing that also includes Abu Dhabi, Dubai, King Abdulla Economic City and Doha with the Oman Open already cancelled this year.

The competition will feature Wilco Nienaber, Shaun Norris, Brandon Stone among others, with five former champions returning to the Qatari capital.

Besides Jorge Campillo, former champions Spaniard Alvaro Quiros (2009), Englishmen Eddie Pepperell (2018) and Chris Wood (2013), South African Justin Harding (2019) are all set to open their campaign in the European Tour event here.

For the local interests, Qatar Open Amateur Championship Ali Al Shahrani, wild card entrants Saleh Al Kaabi and Juhaim Al Kuwari will lead Qatar challenge.

A total of 144 players will battle it out over four days, with this event marking the fourth tournament of the 2021 European Tour season.

The field will be playing for a $1.5 million purse, with none of the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking among the top contenders.

The reason for the absence of top players is due to the ongoing pandemic that has wreaked havoc in the sports world, with golf one of the badly hit sports.

While the golf clubs around the world are still going through a difficult period with tournaments either postponed or cancelled, it’s business as usual at the Qatar Golf Association (QGA), organisers of the blue riband event.

“Qatar Masters is a big thing for us. We consider this tournament close to our heart. That’s why we insisted on organising it this year despite the difficulties that we are in due to the pandemic,” QGA Secretary General Fahad Al Naimi told www.qatar-masters.com on Wednesday.

Education City will host this event for the second time after 2020 after having replaced the familiar surroundings of Doha Golf Club.

But the wind will remain pretty much a constant part of this event despite the change of venue, it will blow at the weekend.

It will be interesting to see how the participants overcome this challenge and lift the attractive ‘Mother of Pearl Trophy’ on Sunday.

So, sharpness or lack of it could be a deciding factor.

AT A GLANCE:

DEFENDING CHAMPION: Spaniard Jorge Campillo shot 13-under-par 275 to defeat David Drysdale in extra holes last year, claiming his second European Tour title in the process.

COURSEEducation City Golf Club was designed by Jose Maria Olazabal and opened in late 2018. The 6,681-metre, par-71 course, which became just the second course in Qatar, is set to welcome the European Tour for the second time this week.

PRIZEMONEY: US$1,500,000.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Thomas Pieters, Eddie Pepperell, Jorge Campillo, Andy Sullivan.

European Tour withdraws Italian golfer Lorenzo

DOHA (Qatar):The European Tour has withdrawn Lorenzo Scalise from the 2021 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters after the Italian tested positive for Covid-19, the organisers said on Wednesday.

The tournament tees off tomorrow with a total of 144 golfers ready to battle in the $1.5m event, offering $250,000 to the winner.

Scalise, who has not exhibited any symptoms, was tested on arrival at Hamad International Airport on Tuesday afternoon as part of the pre-tournament screening process.

In accordance with Qatari Ministry of Public Health guidelines, Scalise is now in self-isolation and will be supported by the Ministry of Public Health and the European Tour throughout that period.

Despite strict COVID-19 protocols this year, the state-of-the-art golf course is set for another exciting battle for The Mother of Pearl Trophy in presence of a competitive field.