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