This week’s Qatar Masters on the European Tour is the second of three tournaments on the Desert Swing and Justin Rose (pictured) will be looking to go one better than in last week’s Abu Dhabi Championship.
At number four in the standings Rose is the highest player in the world rankings competing at the Doha Golf Club, the host of the tournament since the inaugural year in 1998. The event is rare in that it runs from Wednesday to Saturday.
Rose led by four shots towards the end of the third round in Abu Dhabi and had a two shot cushion ahead of the final round. He eventually finished a shot behind Jamie Donaldson who won for the second time on the European Tour.
Louis Oosthuizen is the only other player in the field inside the top ten in the rankings. He has now reached number five following a win at the Volvo Champions tournament two weeks ago. Oosthuizen has a game more suited to the host course than Rose and looks the most likely winner.
Interest is added to the event by the appearance of Jason Dufner, currently at 11 in the rankings. Dufner won two tournaments on the US Tour last season but is debuting at Doha and that puts him at a distinct disadvantage, especially as several players have a decent bank of experience at Doha.
Peter Hanson is one of those players who is a regular visitor to this part of the world. He has made the cut in the last six renewals of the Qatar Masters which means he has the best course form of the entire field.
Retief Goosen has now reached the veteran stage of his career but can still be competitive on certain courses. The South African has won the US Open twice so is proven at the highest level when there is a premium on accuracy over distance.
However, Goosen’s chances might be compromised by the fact that Doha is a big hitter’s layout. The course is about average in length by modern standards but its fairways are relatively wide so waywardness of the tee is punished less than on more tight tracks.
Paul Lawrie is the defending champion so clearly cannot be dismissed when identifying potential winners. The former British Open champion has made a solid start to the new season and is playing well enough to contend again on one of his favourite courses.