The Commercial Bank Qatar Masters returns to Doha Country Club in Qatar’s captial city for the 20th time this week. The Par 72 measures 7,400 yards making it one of the longer courses played on the European Tour all year. The Front 9 and the Back 9 both open and close with Par 5s and have five Par 4s and two Par 3s sandwiched in between.
When narrowing down the field to try and find a winner, there are a few useful pieces of information to know. Every single winner of the Qatar Masters played in the European Tour event the week prior to their win. 18 of those 19 made the cut and played the weekend too. On top of that, all of the last twelve winners had won an event at some point in the last two years and ten of the twelve had won at least once in the last year.
If you just look through and apply that, only seventeen players in the field have won an event in the last two years and made the cut in Abu Dhabi last week. If you narrow it down to players that made the cut and have won a European Tour event in the last year (which is true of ten of the last twelve winners) then you’re left with just seven men. Alex Noren, Tommy Fleetwood, Joost Luiten, Thorbjorn Olesen, Jeunghun Wang, Anthony Wall and Sam Brazel.
As with all of the Desert Swing events, any form in the desert events is a nice pointer. 6 of the last 12 runners-up in this event are event winners so course form is clearly a big pointer. As far as stats go, winners have done well in Driving Distance, Greens in Regulation and Putting over the years. Driving Accuracy is the only category that hasn’t ever seemed important.
First up for me is Thorbjorn Olesen at 33/1. Anything over 28/1 seems pretty big about the Dane in this field. There aren’t many people around that have better form in the Desert Swing events than Olesen, with a T2 and a T3 here in Qatar, a T2 in Abu Dhabi and a T3 and a T5 in Dubai. One of the best players on the European Tour, his inconsistency is always going to be an underlying issue.
Four wins in his last one hundred and twenty European Tour starts suggests this price is a good one though. Especially in an event that suits him down to the ground. Olesen fits the bill as far as people that have a European Tour win in the last year and made the cut last week. Outside of the front few, Olesen is certainly the standout for me.
George Coetzee is my next selection at 60/1. Results reading T2-T5-T12-T7 over the last four years at the course, it’s fair to say there aren’t many golfers who are fonder of Doha Country Club. Coetzee also owns two Top 6 finishes in Abu Dhabi and another in Dubai. The South African only has one Top 5 since his Sunshine Tour win last year but if he’s gonna hit form again then it makes sense that it would happen in this event.
Anthony Wall is my final pick at 125/1. Just about the only man who managed to get the better of Alex Noren in 2016, he may well need to do the same this week if he’s to come out on top. Wall has one T6 in this event and a T4 in Abu Dhabi and has been playing decently since winning the Match Play last year. I just fancy he might return to top form in Doha this week and at 125/1 I’m happy to give him a chance.