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Doha: Following his first European Tour win of 2013 in South Africa on Sunday, World Number Four Louis Oosthuizen (pictured) is the second top five player to confirm his participation in the $2.5m Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, which will be held at Doha Golf Club next week, from January 23-26.
Along with World Number Five Justin Rose of England and World Number 11 Jason Dufner of the USA, the 30-year-old South African adds further star appeal to The European Tour event in Qatar as the winner of the 2010 Open Championship and runner-up at last year’s Masters Tournament, where he was pipped by Bubba Watson in a dramatic playoff.
Oosthuizen, who finished a career-best third in the Race to Dubai last year behind Rory McIlroy and Rose, won the Volvo Golf Champions in South Africa on Sunday taking his sixth European Tour win and reaching a career-high fourth in the Official World Golf Ranking.
He will head to Qatar next week determined to go one better than in 2009, when he finished joint runner-up to Alvaro Quiros of Spain.
“I’ve played the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters many times and I know the course well. It’s a layout that suits my game and I’ve had some good results there,” said Oosthuizen, who has competed in Doha seven times from 2004, only missing out in 2007 and last year.
“I was runner-up four years ago and I’m playing at a higher level now, so I should have a good chance. I won my first event of 2013 and I’m really pleased with how I’m playing so far. Hopefully I can continue to build on my results from last year.”
Oosthuizen teed off last year’s European Tour by successfully defending his title at the Africa Open. He then bloomed again in April with a third-place finish at the Shell Houston Open in the US, his impressive Masters performance and a three-stroke win at the Maybank Malaysian Open, his second European Tour win of the season.
A series of high finishes around the world later in the season then elevated him to World Number Five by early December. In the US, he was fourth at the WGC - Bridgestone Invitational and fifth at The Barclays in August before finishing runner-up to McIlroy in the Deutsche Bank Championship in early September.
The father-of-two continued his good form on the European Tour to finish sixth at both the BMW Masters and WGC - HSBC Champions in China, second at the Barclays Singapore Open – after lipping out with a putt during a playoff loss to Matteo Manassero – and fifth at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
“I had a great 2012 overall. I had a couple of good wins in the start of the year and then played really consistently in big events in the second part of the year,” said Oosthuizen, who is seeking to join compatriots Retief Goosen (2007), Ernie Els (2005) and Darren Fichardt (2003) as a winner at Doha Golf Club.
“I want to continue that form this season and I’ll definitely target a good result in Qatar, although I know there will be a lot of competition as there are some great players there this year.”
Hassan Al Nuaimi, President of the Qatar Golf Association, believes the field for this year’s Commercial Bank Qatar Masters is shaping up to be one of the strongest yet.
“Louis Oosthuizen is one of the world’s top players and it is fantastic to confirm him along with Justin Rose and Jason Dufner. With other star players including Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer and defending champion Paul Lawrie all confirmed, spectators are guaranteed a truly world-class event,” Al Nuaimi said.
Paul Lawrie (1999, 2012) and Adam Scott (2002, 2008) are the only two-time winners of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, while other champions include multiple Major winners Ernie Els (2005) and Retief Goosen (2007).