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 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.

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.

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.

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.

Qatari golfers eye Qatar Open title

By Armstrong Vas

DOHA (Qat): Qatar national team players are looking for a good show at the Qatar Open Amateur Championship which started off at Doha Golf Club (DGC) on Thursday morning.

The three-day tournament, which is in its 35th edition, is being held in association with the Qatar Olympic Committee.

This year’s tournament has been restricted to Qatar-based players only due to the Covid19 pandemic and a host of players are sensing their chance to lay their hands on the trophy on the final day on Saturday.

With the Qatar Open winner qualifying for the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, which will be held at Education City Golf Club, from March 11 to 14, the Qatari players are keen to shift gears.

Jaham Al Kuwari, Saleh Al Kaabi and Ali Al Shahrani are confident of winning the trophy.

Al Kaabi, who has won a couple of titles at the GCC level and finished fourth last year, senses his chance to win the trophy.

“Yes, with the extra ordinary situation and with the tournament restricted to Qatar-based players all our national team players have a chance,” said Kaabi.

Kaabi’s national team colleague Jaham said he is targeting a win in the tournament.

“The Qatar Open is our best chance to dazzle in our home tournament as we were unable to take part in the tournaments outside Qatar due to Covid19,” said Jaham.

Qatar national team coach Hassan Benrokiya said all the national team, senior and junior players, trained hard ahead of the tournament.

“We had a short camp for our players ahead of the event and we have worked on a few areas. All the players are confident and eager for success,” said Hassan.

“It is a good opportunity for Qatar national team players to win the trophy. It will not be easy as there are a few good amateur players in Qatar,” he added.

The Qatar Open will be played in an individual stroke play format and will be restricted to golfers with a Handicap limit of 12.

This year QGA has also done way with the professional division, which was part of the amateur event for the last three years.

“We can make the cut in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in March,” said Ali.

The event is one of the oldest in the region and was first held in 1983 and contested over a sand course at Umm Said.

Michael Young of Ireland won the amateur title last year and also played in the European Tour event.

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.