DOHA: This year’s Commercial Bank Qatar Masters is scheduled for a Saturday finish for the first time in the 15-year history of the $2.5m tournament and Tournament Manager Chris Myers is hoping the change will become permanent.
The European Tour has agreed to change the day of the final day’s play for this year, but could revert back to a Sunday finish if television audience numbers are low.
Speaking at a press conference at Doha Golf Club (DGC), yesterday, Myers said the tournament organisers had been thinking of hosting the final day on Saturday for a long time.
“This has been something that has been discussed by ourselves, the tournament organisers. Not just this year but the last two or three years,” Myers said.
All the earlier editions of the tournament began on a Thursday and finished on a Sunday.
“Obviously the weekends here in the Middle East run through on Friday and Saturday and it’s become apparent for the last few years that finishing on a Sunday limits the number of people, certainly in the morning to watch the final day’s action,” he added.
“Although people do rush from work to try and get for the final holes on the Sunday afternoon,” he pointed out.
Myers, who is also the General Manager of DGC, said the tournament organisers approached the European Tour of their intentions of changing the final day to Saturday and is confident the change can benefit both parties.
“We approached the European Tour and suggested we try to have a Saturday finish, just to see how it fits with the issue of spectators coming through the gates,” he said.
“Of course their concerns were to do with the television coverage back in Europe and in fact around the world, anywhere where they have Saturday and Sunday weekends,” he added.
“We agreed with them that we would try it for this year and see how it fits with the television viewing worldwide and see how it affects us here with the number of spectators coming through the gates at the weekend. Most importantly, we think it will work for us and hope it doesn’t have much impact on television audiences worldwide,” he emphasised.
This year’s Qatar Masters competition will feature top-ranked players such as Justin Rose, Jason Dufner and Jose Maria Olazabal, as well as current champion Paul Lawrie in the tournament which will take place from January 23 to 26.
Meanwhile, the DGC have made a few minor changes to the DGC’s challenging all-grass course.
“We have decided to widen the bunker at the last hole and the length of the grass will be longer than last year,” said Myers
The course designed by Peter Harradine, one of the world’s leading golf course architects, measures 7,374 yards from the tournament tees.
The golf’s elite will need to use every ounce of their talent while navigating the 18 holes on the course which is famed for its tantalizing combination of beauty and complexity.