Open Champion and defending Qatar Masters Champion Paul Lawrie will not be defending his title this year in Doha. But there is still a strong field playing for the £79,064 first prize.
Two European stalwarts, Seve Ballesteros and Ian Woosnam are the star attractions at Doha Golf Club, Qatar, this week. The two major champions are joined by 1998 champion Andrew Coltart and six winners from this season in Anthony Wall, Mathias Grönberg, Lucas Parsons, Wei-Tze Yeh, Gary Orr and José Coceres. Coltart won the inaugural tournament in Qatar with an 18 under par total of 270, which was surpassed last year by Lawrie, who shot rounds of 68, 65, 67 and 68 for a 20 under par total of 268.
Expect good showings from Jamie Spence, third place last week in Dubai and up and coming star Alistair Forsyth. Forsyth is in great form of late and it is only a matter of time before he wins on the tour. His 3rd place finish in the Heineken Open and ninth last week in Dubai suggests that he is ready to go all the way to the winner's rostrum soon. With an experienced caddie on his bag in the guise of Alan Macfarlane, and a game worthy of a 'major' one day he has all the tools he needs to go ahead and win.
The Scots have a good record here and Forsyth will aim to make it a hat trick of victories for bonnie Scotland with Coltart and Lawrie the previous Champions.
The course underwent a major over-seeding programme in 1999 in the rough with rye grass which, combined with a policy of no buggies since the beginning of January that year, produced a stunning improvement in definition and presentation of the golf course.
A sandy hazard surrounding the wonderful par three third hole and to the right of the fourth hole was flooded to create a stunning water feature which adds a much greater challenge to both these holes.
Golf magic prediction: Forsyth to nick it at the end…we hope.
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