The 2022 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters returns to Doha Golf Club for the first time since 2019 after a two-year stay at Education City Golf Club as one of two events this week on the DP World Tour. Here’s what you need to know…
Familiar venue. New look.
Despite being a familiar venue on the DP World Tour, Doha Golf Club has a new look, having undergone a number of changes while the past two editions of the tournament were hosted at Education City Golf Club.
All 18 greens on the Championship Course have been completely re-laid , the first time they have undergone major renovation since opening in 1997.
The most striking new feature on the Peter Harradine-designed course – where every edition of the tournament was played from 1998 to 2019 - is the double green on holes 9 and 18, positioned behind an existing lake, to create the potential for drama when the tournament reaches its climax.
Rozner full of confidence ahead of title defence
Defending champion Antoine Rozner is seeking to join a select group of players to have won the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters on multiple occasions after landing his second DP World Tour title courtesy of an incredible 60-foot birdie putt on the last at Education City Golf Club.
Despite the tournament, now in its 25th staging, boasting a strong roll call of champions, only South African Branden Grace has ever won the tournament in consecutive years, while Major champions Adam Scott (2002, 2008) and Paul Lawrie (1999, 2012) are the only other players to have won the title on multiple occasions.
While Grace secured his double in 2015 and 2016 at Doha Golf Club, if he were to win this week, Frenchman Rozner would be unique in going back-to-back around two different venues.
Three successive sub-70 rounds to finish last week’s Steyn City Championship indicate Rozner is working his way back into form after a busy start to 2022 in which he has featured in all but one DP World Tour event.
“Last week I came 25th but I was only two shots away from a top ten finish and I feel like I gave up so many shots on the course, silly shots as well,” he said.
“It’s just so, so close to great results and I feel like my game is actually very good, it’s been very solid the last three weeks and I’m really looking forward to this week, bring some good vibes again. It’s very close to being good again.”
Burmester targets Masters debut
The first Major of the year is just a fortnight away, with this week's event in Doha and the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club in Texas offering the final opportunities to move in to the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking and secure a spot in the field at The Masters.
Of those playing in the Arabian Peninsula, Dean Burmester is best placed to grasp the opportunity before next Monday’s deadline, after a runner-up finish behind fellow South African Shaun Norris at the Steyn City Championship last week moved him to a career-high 64th place
Needing to at least match his finish last week to be in with the possibility of a debut appearance at Augusta National, Burmester is in no mood to let the opportunity pass by.
“It’s something that is hard not to think about,” he said.
“When you’re on the golf course you just try and stay process-driven; one shot at a time, it’s a cliché, everyone says it, but as a little boy that’s the one Major you want to go and play.”
Gusty winds to provide added challenge?
Players faced high winds and sandstorms when Doha Golf Club last played host, with Justin Harding emerging the winner with a score of 13 under par.
Temperatures are expected to reach the high 30s when the tournament begins on Thursday but conditions are forecasted to change over the weekend.
Winds will begin to become strong on Saturday afternoon with gusts up to 30mph, while Sunday will see the strongest winds of 35mph throughout the day to provide added complexity.
After finishing on 22 under par in Johannesburg last week, Burmester is expecting a stern challenge for those that make it through to the weekend’s play.
“We’re going to be finding dust in places we shouldn’t be finding dust come Saturday and Sunday so we’ll just have to deal with it,” he said.
One to Watch: Marcus Armitage
In his seven appearances on the DP World Tour so far this season, England's Marcus Armitage has recorded four top-20 finishes.
Of those, two came in the Middle East at the Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic, notably a Rolex Series event, and the Ras al Khaimah Classic.
Armitage won his maiden DP World Tour title at the Porsche European Open by two shots at the Green Eagle Golf Courses in Hamburg last year.