Commercial Bank Qatar Masters: Top players Sullivan, Rai look for glory

By Armstrong Vas

DOHA (Qatar): Andy Sullivan and Aaron Rai lead a galaxy of stars at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters which starts on Thursday (March 11) at the Education City Golf Course.

Besides the duo, five former champions constitute the 144 players who will be looking forward to win the Mother Pearl trophy in the four-day event.

“We have a competitive field of 144 players from Europe, Asia and the United States,” QGA Technical Director Mike Shouriey told www.qatar-masters.com.

The QGA official also added that “some from the top-50 ranked players could not come as the dates clashed with the Players Championship of the PGA Tour in the USA”.

Nuneaton-born Sullivan will be keen to add to the already four European Tour career wins he has against his name. The 34-year-old returned to the winner’s circle after a five-year absence with victory at the 2020 English Championship.

Wolverhampton-born Rai best remembered for his three-way share of the lead with eventual champion Eddie Pepperell and Gregory Havret on the opening day of 2018 edition.

However, he couldn’t cope up with the pressure then, but this time he is back with a lot of confidence.

Rai already has two European Tour titles under his belt and he will be keen to add another here, if luck and form favours him.

The 26-year-old notched up his maiden win at the 2016 Barclays Kenya Open. That particular victory turned out to be a significant one as his Kenya-born mother of Indian descent watched him in action during her first visit to her home country since 47 years.

Defending champion Jorge Campillo along with former winners Justin Harding (2019), Chris Wood (2013) and Alvaro Quiros (2009) are the other golfers who feature in this year’s competition, that will be held under strict health protocol as prescribed by the Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health due the pandemic.

All the players, caddies, officials along with the media production team of the European Tour will be operating from the ‘bio bubble’ before and during the event.

Defending champion hopes to revive form in Doha

By Armstrong Vas

DOHA (Qatar): Spain’s Jorge Campillo will be back to defend his title at this year’s Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, according to the latest players’ entry list published by The European Tour.

The event takes place at the Education City Golf Course from March 11 to 14.

The Spaniard overcame David Drysdale of Scotland in a closely-fought play-off to win the 2020 edition for his second European Tour title.

Campillo, currently ranked 137, went through five playoff holes before clinching the decisive win.

The Caceres-born golfer sealed a long-awaited first European Tour victory at the 2019 Trophee Hassan II in his 229th career start, following three separate podium finishes earlier.

However, he has failed to display the same level of form throughout 2020 with the Qatar title remaining his only success.

In December last year, Campillo, who turned pro in 2009, failed to finish on the podiums at the DP World Tour Championship (Dubai) and Golf in Dubai Championship.

This year too, the lean patch continued for the 34-year-old who ended his campaign lower down the leaderboards at European Tour event Saudi International (February) and back-to-back competitions in the UAE – Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

But Campillo will be keen to do well in the Qatari capital, which has proved lucky for him after he finished second in the 2019 edition.

Wang Jeung-hun: First Asian to win CB Qatar Masters title

By Mohammad Amin-ul Islam

DOHA (Qat): South Korea has seen a surge in golf popularity in the last one decade, but the men are yet to catch up with their women counterparts on the world scene.

Yet, 25-year-old Wang Jeung-hun left an indelible impression when became the first Asian to win the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in 2017 and heralded a new beginning for Korean men golfers in the tournament’s 20th edition at the Doha Golf Club.

The Seoul-born golfer became third youngest player after Matteo Manassero and Seve Ballesteros to win back-to-back European Tour events, aged just 20 years and 251 days at the 2017 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.

He defeated Joakim Lagergren and Jaco van Zyl in a playoff to become the first Asian to win a European Tour title in the Middle East, and the youngest to lift the Mother of Pearl trophy.

In the process, Wang became the second quickest to win three tournaments in his 29th official European Tour event.

The feat was only behind Tiger Woods, who took only 12 events to do it.

Wang turned professional in 2012, and played much of his early paid golf on the PGA Tour China and Asian Tour.

But Wang, whose other favourite hobby is computer games, exploded onto the global scene with two wins in as many events in 2016 — Morocco and Mauritius.

The Korean won the European Tour’s Trophée Hassan II on a sponsor exemption where he made a birdie on the second extra hole of a sudden-death playoff to defeat Nacho Elvira.

In the same year, Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award to establish himself as one of the rising stars from Asia.

The following week, he won again at the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open, a co-sanctioned event on the European, Sunshine and Asian Tours. He claimed a one stroke victory over Siddikur Rahman.

Qatar Open: Al Shahrani becomes second Qatari to win after 35 years

By Armstrong Vas

DOHA (Qat): Overnight leader Ali Al Shahrani continued his consistent run on Saturday to win the Qatar Open Amateur Championship.

The Qatari national team player with his six-stroke win became only the second Qatari to claim the title in tournament’s 35-year history.

Abdullah Al Bouanain was the first Qatari to win the championship on sand in the inaugural edition held 35 years ago.

The tournament was organized by the Qatar Golf Association (QGA) in association with Qatar Olympic Committee.

As Qatar Open champion, Al Shahrani automatically qualifies for the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, which will be held from March 11 to 14 at the Education City Golf course.

Al Shahrani will get a chance to compete in the European tour event along with compatriot Jaham Al Kuwari, who enters the next month’s tournament with a wild card.

Al Shahrani warded off a tough challenge from his Qatari team-mate Saleh Al Kaabi and South African Ruan Jordaan, both who finished with an identical score of 9-over par.

“I am dedicating my win to the QGA and as they’ve were always a source of encouragement and support. I’m very happy that I have become the first Qatari to win the championship, after a gap of 35 years,” said Al Shahrani, who finished with a gross score of 219 3-over par in the three rounds.

“All the credit to my coaches at QGA and Qatar Golf Academy like Hassan, Anwar Ali and Mike Elliot for helping to improve my game.” Al Shahrani was initiated to the game by his father, who regaled as his son held aloft the trophy infront of a sizeable crowd. “It wasn’t an easy competition. We played in very tough windy conditions. In the final round, I was under a lot of pressure from Saleh (Al Kaabi), but thankfully I managed to win the title,” he added. QGA Secretary General Mr Fahad Al Naimi, who handed over the trophy to Al Shahrani complimented the winning effort. “Abdullah Al Bouanain won the inaugural edition in 1983, but that was on a sand course. After 35 years, we’ve another Qatari winning the tournament. It’s a superb achievement. We’re proud of him. Ali is among our top players. I hope he will keep growing and will do well for the country,” said Mr Fahad.

Limited attendees for Commercial Bank Qatar Masters

By Armstrong Vas

DOHA (Qat): The Commercial Bank Qatar Masters golf tournament will allow a limited number of attendees to be present at the venue keeping in view the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) guidelines, officials of the Qatar Golf Association (QGA) informed.

Fans, who wish to attend, can registration at https://qatar-masters.com/tickets/.

The Qatar Masters is a European Tour event and one of the golf blueriband competition in the region.

It will be stage for the second successive year at the Education City Golf Course from March 11 to 14.

For the last 23 years, the event was held at Doha Golf Club while the last edition was staged at the Education City Golf Club.

“A limited number of attendees will be allowed at the venue keeping the Covid19 safety precautious in mind and keeping the MoPH guidelines in mind,” Mike Shoueiry Technical Director at QGA told www.qatar-masters.com.

“All golf lovers who are interested to witness the proceedings at the Education City Golf Course are requested to register themselves through an online link,” Mike said.

With a limited number of attendees allowed for the event, organisers have said that the criteria for admission will be “first come first basis” and requested all those who are interested to register fast to avoid disappointment.

The QGA officials lead by its President Hassan Al Naimi and General Secretary Fahad Al Naimi are working overtime for the smooth conduct of the championship with health care of all those associated with the event of prime importance for the organizing committee.

Mike said that around 500 to 600 people will be coming to Qatar and will be housed in the four designated hotels and operate from the ‘CBQ Qatar Masters medical bubble’.

“The players, caddies, officials and all other people accompanying the European Tour, including the official media team, will be operating from ‘CBQ Qatar Masters medical bubble’. The entire golf entourage heading to Qatar will also undergo COVID-19 test 72 hours before boarding the plane to Qatar.

“We will have to follow MoPH guidelines and adhere to European Tour protocols. QGA is working with MoPH and European Tour to make the event safe for everybody associated with the tournament,” said Mike.

Jordaan leads; Qatar’s Al Shahrani on second spot

By Armstrong Vas

DOHA (Qat): Doha-based Ruan Jordaan shot one under par 74 to head the leaderboard on the first day at the 39th Qatar Open Amateur Championship on Thursday.

Jordaan overcame tough blustery conditions to finish ahead of the 108 golfers.

The South African is followed by Qatar national team member Ali Al Shahrani while another Doha-based golfer Mike Elliott of the USA is in the third spot.

“It was very windy out there. It was a tough day, but I’m happy with my scores. I was playing after a long time. What I achieved was good,” said Elliott, who is a coach at the Doha Golf Club.

The three-day championship is held on individual stroke play format, and the field will be reduced to just 60 players at end of the second day’s play on Friday.

The winner will qualify for the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, a European Tour event, from March 11 to 14 at the Education City Golf Club.

Tom Sweigart, Pratyush Jain, Iain Stewart, David Moreland, Jordan Massey, Kohei Noguchi, Sam Wall, Kittisak Sang-Orn, Simon Nsubuga, Christian Prambs JR, Saleh Al Kaabi, Abdulrahman Al Shahrani, Chris Corcelles, Jack McGuire, Anwar Ali, Saad Kazi and Arnav Jain are likely to improve their positions on the second day.

Leaderboard after 1st day’s play:

Ruan Jordaan (-1) 73, Ali Al Shahrani (1) 74, Mike Elliott (4) 75, Tom Sweigart (-1) 75, Pratyush Jain (2) 77, Iain Stewart (7) 77, David Moreland (6) 78, Jordan Massey (3) 79, Kohei Noguchi (4) 79, Sam Wall (2) 79.

Education City Golf Club ready to host CBQ Qatar Masters

By Armstrong Vas

DOHA (Qatar):The Education City Golf Club (ECGC) course is ready to host some of the world’s top golfers for the 2021 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, a European Tour event.

The four-day event is organised by the Qatar Golf Association (QGA) in partnership with Qatar Olympic Committee.

The competition will be held from March 11-14 for the second successive year at the ECGC, which is a part of Qatar Foundation.

“The golf course is in fantastic condition. All preparations are going on as per the plan,” Michael Braidwood, General Manager of ECGC, told www.qatar-masters.com

The work on the golf course for hosting the prestigious championship started six months earlier, and the greens are being fine tuned to meet the European Tour guidelines.

“The key priority is obviously the greens making sure they are firm, fast and smooth for the professionals to putt on,” added Braidwood.

The tournament will be held under the guidelines of Ministry of Public Health (MoPH).

The players, officials, caddies and media personnel accompanying the European Tour entourage will be operating from a ‘medical bubble’ before and during the event.

“The tournament professionals from around the world all of them will go into a medical bubble along with officials, caddies, TV crew and the media coming from overseas. All of them will operate from within a bubble,” added the official.

Commercial Bank Qatar Masters will be held without spectators: QGA

By Armstrong Vaz

DOHA (QAT): This year’s Commercial Bank Qatar Masters will be held without spectators, according to the event promoters Qatar Golf Association (QGA).

The decision not to have fans was to follow the guidelines of Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) so that a safe environment is ensured for every stakeholders with QGA led by its President Hassan Al Naimi and Secretary General Fahad Al Naimi are working overtime to make it a success.

The Local Organising Committee (LOC) in consultation with the MoPH have decided to have no fans with an intent to keep the event safe for everybody.

“The event will go ahead without the spectators. the Golf Village, which was traditionally part of the event, will not be there,” said Mike.

The European Tour event will take place at Education City Golf Course from March 11 to 14.

“All the players, caddies, officials and all other people accompanying the European Tour, including the official media team, will be operating from ‘CBQ Qatar Masters medical bubble’,” said Mike Shouriey, Technical Director at QGA.

It will be the second year in succession the event will be held at the course designed by Jose Maria Olazabal.

“We will have to follow MoPH guidelines and adhere to European Tour protocols. QGA is working with MoPH and European to make the event safe for everybody associated with the tournament.”

The golf entourage will also undergo COVID-19 test 72 hours in their respective country before boarding the plane to Qatar.

“Around 500-600 people will be in Qatar for the event,” added Mike.

“On arrivals, they will be tested at the Hamad International Airport. If they are are found negative, the players, caddies and officials will be shifted to their respective hotels.”

The LOC members, volunteers, contractors and hospitality staff will also undergo tests.

QGA along with MoPH are working out modalities to accommodate a limited number of VIP guests for the event.

“We will know the exact number of VIP’s during the event and the protocols that will to be followed at the prize distribution in the coming days,” said Mike.