Desert mission for Monty and Player

Debuts in Doha for golfing legends

Bob Warters's picture
Wed, 13 Mar 2002


Colin Montgomerie and Gary Player have many things in common. Both are class acts on the golf course, outspoken and wear their hearts on their sleeve.

Gary Player - debut in Doha.

One little known fact, however, is that until now, neither has played in Qatar, the Middle East golfing outpost which tomorrow (Thursday) hosts the latest stop on the European Tour's global circuit.

Monty has turned his back on an invitation to play at Bay Hill on the US Tour, following heckling by a minority of the US galleries, in a bid to find some form going into next week's Players championship in Florida - recognised as the 'fifth major.'

For the South African legend, it's a chance to add Doha to his tick-list of courses he's never played in a career spanning five decades.

Monty, who missed the cut in Dubai last week, claims he's had a change of heart regarding his previous American boycott, having received letters of support from people he describes as 'genuine US golf fans' and believes the issue of his playing schedule has been 'blown a little out of proportion.'

While for Player, his visit is a sentimental journey, for Montgomerie it's a real chance to get some form under his belt. But he'll have to be at his best to hold off a strong field, which includes Darren Clarke, Ian Woosnam and theĀ 1999 champion Paul Lawrie.

But the form guide also points to Andrew Oldcorn, Brian Davis, Matthias Gronberg, Gary Evans and Carl Pettersson - all top ten finishers in Dubai.

If you're looking for an outsider, pint-sized Soren Kjeldsen from Denmark, usually scores well in Qatar.

 

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