Rose Ready To Bloom In Qatar
Fresh after tipping up Jimmy Walker at 16/1 to win the Sony Open over the weekend, I now look to the Qatar Masters where three players in particular catch my eye.
The second leg of the Desert Swing isn’t as lucrative as the Abu Dhabi Championship that precedes it, but these days it usually attracts a competitive field and most of the top European golfers are turning up for this one. The course isn’t too demanding, so you should concentrate on players who enjoy golf in this part of the world and who showed some form in Abu Dhabi last week.
Doha Golf Club features one of the first grass golf courses ever built in the Middle East, and the lush green environment presents a stark contrast to the surrounding desert. It’s a fairly straightforward course, which doesn’t put a premium on accuracy from the tee, although the wind can be a major factor in that part of the world.
In The Bunker
Sergio Garcia is the joint antepost favourite in Qatar and it’s not hard to see why. He’s made the top ten on six of his last seven visits, and won this event last year with a superb final round of 65. But he’s been off the course since November, and it is rare for him to go straight to this tournament without a warm-up. The last time he did that, in 2013, he finished second, so this is hardly a watertight theory, but at odds of 7/1, against rivals who all have at least one tournament under their belt in 2015, I’m prepared to take him on this week.
Garcia’s main rival in the market is Justin Rose and at the same price, he’s a better bet than the Spaniard. He doesn’t usually play this event, his only appearance since 2009 was a respectable but not spectacular top twenty finish in 2013,
…and his performance in Abu Dhabi last week suggested he has shaken off the close-season cobwebs. He started slowly, but finished with a 65 and if he carries that form to Qatar, he could take some beating. Back him at 7/1.
Charl Schwartzel had a poor final round in Abu Dhabi but held on to finish in the top ten, and that came after an encouraging performance at the South African Open. He hasn’t played Qatar since 2010 but has been inside the top 25 in all bar one of his previous visits, and finished third in 2008. He seems to have kicked off 2015 in much better form than 2014 and looks a good bet at 10/1
After recording his first tournament win since 2012 at the end of last year, Branden Grace seemed poised to pick up more silverware. He hasn’t quite gone on from there, but he showed flashes of his best at the South African Open and last week in Abu Dhabi, and has some form in this event, having finished sixth in 2013. At odds of 28/1 he’s worth sticking with in Qatar this week.