- Special Pages
Sergio Garcia of Spain in action at last year’s Commercial Bank Qatar Masters at the Doha Golf Club.
Doha: Popular Spaniard Sergio Garcia will play his first competitive round of the year in Doha on Wednesday, when the former world number two will start as one of the favourites at the $2.5m Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.
The event will start on a Wednesday for the first time and conclude on Saturday.
Garcia, 33, has chosen to start his 2013 campaign at Doha Golf Club, which he says ‘feels like home’ and houses the acclaimed 7,374-yard Championship Course designed by Peter Harradine.
The current World Number 18 is preparing to compete in the tournament for the seventh straight year and eighth time in total, having made his tournament debut in 1999, the year he turned pro.
“I love going back to Doha and competing in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. I’ve been competing there for a long time now and I still remember playing at Doha Golf Club for the first time, when I was just 19,” said Garcia, who has been practising in his native Castellon province in Spain.
“I have a lot of friends in Doha and it somehow feels like coming home, so I’m very happy to start my new season there. The golf club, the Qatar Golf Association and Commercial Bank do a great job organising the tournament, which is why I’m so happy to play there each season and I usually play pretty well.”
Garcia tied for fifth last February, his fourth top-10 finish in his five previous appearances in Doha, having tied for seventh in both 2008 and 2009, and finished joint ninth in 2011.
The 10-time European Tour winner is determined to start his new season in the same form he finished last year. In August, he secured his eighth PGA Tour title at the Wyndham Championship and the following week tied for third in The Barclays, also in the US.
In late September, the passionate Spaniard lifted the Ryder Cup trophy for the fourth time, playing his part in the ‘Miracle at Medinah’ by beating Jim Furyk 1-up in Sunday’s singles in his sixth appearance for Europe in the world-famous team competition. Garcia travelled to Dubai in late November and finished joint ninth in The European Tour’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship.
In December, he finished fourth in the Asian Tour’s Thailand Golf Championship, but saved his best for last, crowning his first appearance in Malaysia by shooting a closing 11-under 61 to win the rain-shortened Iskandar Johor Open for his 24th professional title.
“I played really well in the second half of 2012 and had two great wins, in the US and in Malaysia. My final round in Johor was fantastic and shooting 11 under anywhere makes you feel great, especially as it gave me the trophy. It was a really good way to finish the year. Now, I want to start my 2013 season in the same way in Doha,” said Garcia, who will arrive today.
Garcia will compete along with four European team-mates from last September’s winning Ryder Cup team – World Number Five Justin Rose, Martin Kaymer, Peter Hanson and defending champion Paul Lawrie.
Jose Maria Olazabal, Captain of the victorious team, and Paul McGinley, recently appointed Team Europe Captain for 2014, will also be in the field. Other leading players include World Number Four Louis Oosthuizen, fellow South African Ernie Els, the reigning Open Champion and four-time Major winner, and American star Jason Dufner, a two-time winner on last year’s US PGA Tour. The Peninsula