Larrazabal struggles to maintain lead on Day 2

Doha: Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal had an eagle and three birdies on the back nine as he overcame an unimpressive start on Friday at the 25th Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.

“It was a tough start. I didn’t expect the drive on the first to go so far right,” said Larrazabal. “It is even harder mentally when you shoot 40 on the front nine and you’re two over after three.”

Chase Hanna (66), Wilco Nienaber (68) and Adrian Meronk (70) were all one shot behind in a tie for second.

The 122nd-ranked Larrazabal, seeking his seventh DP World Tour title, shot 1-under 71 at Doha Golf Club for a 36-hole total of 9-under 135 to take a one-shot lead into the weekend.

It was a roller coaster day for the Spaniard. In the morning, when he finished hole 9, he was +4 and had fallen to 20th place.

“It was a tough start. Par-bogey-bogey was not in the plans,” said Larrazabal, who added double bogey on the par-5 ninth to complete a front-nine 40 that left him four strokes back after starting the day two shots in front.

He bounced back with an eagle at the par-5 10th before three more birdies, including the 18th.

“Mentally, you have to recover. You have to believe in the shots you plan … that’s what I did and it paid off,” said the 38-year-old, who won Pecanwood Classic in South Africa two weeks ago.

American golfer Hanna felt right at home in the windy conditions.

“Growing up in Kansas, you get a lot of wind,” the 27-year-old said. “I certainly like the wind. I feel like my game suits the wind nicely. … My iron shots were good especially on the par 3s, just kept it pretty stress free.”

Romain Langasque (71) is two strokes off the lead. Marcus Kinhult of Sweden had the lowest round with 65.

Spain’s Larrazabal shoots 64, leads by two after first round

Doha: Spain’s Pablo Larrazabal opened up a two-stroke lead after the first round at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters here at the lush green Doha Golf Club course on Thursday.

India’s Shubhankar Sharma, Denmark’s Marcus Helligkilde, Romain Langasque (France) and Adrian Meronk (Poland) were all two shots behind in a tie for second.

The highly-anticipated DP Tour event returned to its original home after the last two editions, which were held at the Education City Golf Club.

The competition is organised by Qatar Golf Association (QGA) with support from Qatar Olympic Committee, Doha Golf Club and long-term title sponsor, Commercial Bank.

“I’m very pleased. I played very solid. I missed only a couple of shots. I did an up and down there on the last green which I missed. I missed the cut last week but I played very solid golf today,” said the 38-year-old.

The tournament, which is celebrating its 25th year, features Thorbjorn Olesen, Ashun Wu and past champions Chris Wood, Jorge Campillo, Simon Rozner, Justin Harding and Eddie Pepperwell.

With the temperature soared to plus-30 degree celsius at Doha Golf Club, Larrazábal birdied his first three holes and had nine total for an 8-under 64. The 122nd-ranked player dropped only one shot, on the par-4 fifth hole.

The temperature was nice this morning but it started boiling,” he added. “It was 35 or 36 degrees, but I kept drinking a lot of water and making birdies.”

On the prevalent conditions at the course, Pablo said: “The conditions are great. When you come to a golf course that they’ve really changed, and they’ve not only changed it for us but for amateurs too. I’m sure the members here enjoy it a lot more and obviously there are a lot more pin positions for us. I think they did a great job and it’s looking magnificent.”

The tournament was first held in 1998 and since then it is considered Qatar’s annual ‘must-attend’ sporting and social event.

Defending champion Antoine Rozner, who won last year with a 60-foot putt on the last day at Education City Golf club, was tied eighth (-4) after the first day’s play.

Commercial Bank Qatar Masters tees off tomorrow

Doha: The occasional wind and the chill in the Qatari capital will test some of the world’s best golfers during the silver jubilee edition of Commercial Bank Qatar Masters at the Doha Golf Club (DGC) course from tomorrow.

A total of 144 golfers including 140 professionals and four amateurs will be in action in the DP World Tour – formerly known as the European Tour – event for the first time following renovation at DGC.

This year’s edition will see the tournament return to its original venue after two years due to renovation work at the course, with Education City Golf Club hosted the 2020 and 2021 editions.

But according to the Qatar Golf Association Technical Director Mike Shoueiry the redesigned four new greens can throw some challenge to the competitors.

“All the 18 holes have been reconstructed with four new greens being redesigned differently. If the greens are cut to become faster and given the windy weather forecast over the next few days, the players are in for a tough test,” said Shoueiry.

The DGC course was designed by UAE-based Peter Harradine and was opened in 1997, with the first Qatar Masters held in 1998 with a strong history of winners including double champions Paul Lawrie, Adam Scott and Branden Grace.

Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Ernie Els and Thomas Bjorn are also among those to have claimed the title.

Defending champion Antoine Rozner will be back in action along with Jorge Campillio, Chris Wood, Justin Harding and Eddie Pepperell.

Qatar’s Saleh Al Kaabi, Ali Al Shahrani will get wild cards

By Armstrong Vas

Doha: England’s Matthew Jordan and Poland’s Adrian Meronk share the lead on Sunday morning at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters at the Doha Golf Club course.

Finland’s Kalle Samooja was a stroke behind after shooting 6-under 66 on Saturday.

Jordan (70) and Meronk (72) had 54-hole totals of 8-under 208 as both search for their first European tour win.

The 282nd-ranked Jordan had a front-nine 39 but recovered with five birdies on the back nine in an overall “stressful” round.

The tournament is celebrating its silver jubilee this year.

This year’s Qatar Open Amateur Championship-winner Denmark’s Mikkel Mathiesen along with Saudi Arabia’s Faisal Salhab will receive wild cards for the DP Tour event along with Qatar’s Saleh Al Kaabi and Ali Al Shahrani.

The four complete the amateur line up in which 140 top-ranked players will be vying for the Mother of Pearl Trophy.

The Qatar Masters is a pro tournament, which was part of the erstwhile European Tour and was founded in 1998, making it the 2nd oldest DP World Tour event on the Arabian Peninsula after the Dubai Desert Classic.

It now forms part of an extended Middle East Swing on the Tour.

The highly anticipated event is organised by Qatar Golf Association (QGA) with the support of Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC), Doha Golf Club (DGC) and long-term title sponsor.

This year, the event returns to its original home at Doha Golf Course, after the last two editions were held at Education City.

Last year, eventual winner Antoine Rozner’s closing 67 helped him ward off the challenge of Italian Guido Migliozzie, South Africa’s Darren Fichardt and Indian star Gaganjeet Bhullar, all who finished tied second, one back.

The event has been previously won by the likes of Ernie Els, Adam Scott, Paul Lawrie and Henrik Stenson and the 2022 edition will see some of the top ranked players in attendance.

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.

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.

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 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.


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.

CBQ, QGA tie-up popularised golf in Qatar, says Hussain

By Armstrong Vas

DOHA (Qatar):Commercial Bank is committed to promoting a healthy lifestyle as part of Qatar 2030 vision and wants to “support and compliment” Qatar Golf Association (QGA) in promoting the sports among the local community.

Executive General Manager and Chief Marketing Officer at Commercial Bank Qatar (CBQ) Hussain Ali Al Abdulla said the bank’s association with QGA extends for many years and “CBQ are proud to be part of the sport’s body which has promoted a sporting culture among the Qatari community”.

“Our aim is to promote the golf among the Qatari community especially the youngsters as part of our country’s 2030 vision,” said Hussain on the sidelines of a press conference on Tuesday. “We want to educate and promote the sport. We also want to support and compliment QGA’s efforts to promote golf among the Qataris.”

He also added that the CBQ’s long-term tie up with QGA has yielded results.

“I think we have been successful to a extend as a large number of crowd, which included youngsters, adults and families attended last year’s Commercial Bank Qatar Masters held at the Education City golf course which is one of the best golf course,” added Hussain.

The CBQ official was happy the way the tournament has evolved over the years.

“We are happy and proud the way the tournament has progressed and delighted that we have been able to hold another tournament,” Hussain said on the competition’s 24th edition.

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.

Positive results due to month-long training camp: Saleh Al Kaabi

By Armstrong Vas

DOHA (Qat): Saleh Al Kaabi beleived the positive results of the Qatari golers at the Qatar Open Amateur Championship was due to the month-long intensive training camp.

Last Saturday, Ali Al Shahrani won the tournament becoming only the second Qatari to win the tournament in the 35-year-old history while Al Kaabi finished a joint second and another Qatari Juhaim Al Kuwari came fourth.

The tournament, organized by Qatar Golf Associationin was played in individual stroke play format. Around 108 golfers based in Qatar took part in the three-day tournament.

Al Kaabi was happy that his friend and team-mate Al Shahrani won the title.

Reflecting on the training he had before the tournament, Al Kaabi said: “We had a closed camp for a week. Our coaches worked out a plan and laid emphasis on course management skills.”

Al Kaabi, who had finished second in the same tournament four years back, said the current edition was not easy for golfers.

“The weather conditions were tough for all the three days. It was tough and we had fun. Happy to finish a joint second,” said Al Kaabi.

Incidentally Al Kaabi, Al Shahrani and Jordaan were grouped together in the final round.

“I am happy for Ali. I had said from the beginning that a Qatari will win this year’s tournament,” added Al Kaabi.

Regarding his participation in the upcoming Commercial Bank Qatar Masters as a wild card player, the 26-year-old said he was yet to take call.

“I will decide on it (Qatar Masters) in the coming days,” added Al Kaabi.

Besides Al Shahrani, Jaham Al Kuwari is the other Qatari who will play at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.