FROM LEFT: Chris Myers, Tournament Manager, Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, Fahad Nasser Al Naimi, General Secretary, Qatar Golf Association (QGA), Hassan Al Nuaimi, President, QCA, Andrew Stevens, Group Chief Executive Officer, Commercial Bank, Abdulla Al Raisi, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Commercial Bank, and Mohammed Faisal Al Naimi, Executive Director of QGA pose for a picture along with the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters 2013 trophy at Doha Golf Club (DGC) yesterday. PICTURES BY: KAMMUTTY VP
Doha: Justin Rose of England and American Jason Dufner will be among the highest-ranked players to confirm their participation in the $2.5m Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, it was announced yesterday.
The European Tour event will take place from January 23 to 26 at the Doha Golf Club.
José Maria Olazabal, a 23-time European Tour winner, will also compete in Qatar, where the Spanish legend is assured of a special reception after captaining Rose and his European teammates to a spectacular comeback victory in the Ryder Cup last September.
Rose, who will join Ryder Cup colleagues Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer and defending champion Paul Lawrie in Doha, impressed on his last visit to the Middle East in November when a closing course record 62 secured a runner-up finish behind world number one Rory McIlroy at the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.
The 32-year-old Englishman, also second to McIlroy in the 2012 Race to Dubai, is hoping to go one better in Qatar following a stunning season that included his first WGC title, a starring role in the Ryder Cup, his best finish in a Major and a career-high world ranking of four.
“I finished the year playing really well and I want to build on that in the Middle East. I’ll be looking to win early in the season and to win the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters would be a brilliant start and set me up well in the lead-up to the Masters,” said Rose, who last competed in Doha in 2009.
“My game’s in a good place right now and I’m playing well on all types of golf courses. I really enjoy playing desert courses like Doha Golf Club as it requires lots of imagination and shot making ability, which suits me. I believe I can win as I’ve been performing consistently for a while now.”
“The European Tour has such a big reach globally so the reception I’ve received throughout Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa, where I’ve played since The Ryder Cup, has been amazing,” Rose said.
“I’m really looking forward to meeting the fans in Doha as I’ve no doubt they’ll provide a fantastic atmosphere,” he added.
Dufner, 35, is looking forward to facing Rose as he competes in Doha for the first time.
“It’s great that Justin’s playing in Doha. I’ve played practice rounds and competitive rounds with him. He’s a very skilled golfer and has come into his own with some big wins. Qatar has one big tournament a year so it’ll be good to have as many good players as possible.” said Dufner, who won twice on last year’s US PGA Tour and finished fourth on the money list with almost $4.9m.
An experienced traveller, Dufner finished runner-up in The European Tour’s Perth Invitational in Australia in October before competing in Malaysia and China, and is now keen to make his first visit to Qatar.
“I’m looking forward to Qatar, which looks like a good event when I’ve seen it on TV. I’ve spoken to some US Tour players and they say the Middle East tournaments are some of the better events of the year. It should be fun,” said Dufner, whose pre-shot waggle and swing have drawn comparisons to the legendary Ben Hogan. Olazabal will be another crowd favourite in Doha after masterminding Europe’s Ryder Cup win, a crowning glory on a storied career that includes two Masters Tournament titles (1994, 1999) among a total of 23 European Tour wins, putting him eighth on the all-time list.
The 46-year-old Spaniard, who played in seven Ryder Cups, has not won a Tour event since 2005 but was tied in 12th position when he competed in Doha last year.
Hassan Al Nuaimi, President of the Qatar Golf Association, believes the addition of Rose, Dufner and Olazabal to the field for the 16th Commercial Bank Qatar Masters will ensure a spectacular event for golf fans in Doha.
“Justin Rose and Jason Dufner are two of the world’s leading golfers, as shown by their high ranking, and both will be among the favourites to win the 16th Commercial Bank Qatar Masters,” Al Nuaimi said.
“José Maria Olazabal is a golfing great and one of The European Tour’s most successful players. He showed his inspirational character as captain of Team Europe at the Ryder Cup in September, so he is assured of an especially warm reception at Doha Golf Club,” he added in a statement.
Andrew Stevens, Group Chief Executive Officer of Commercial Bank of Qatar, said this year’s tournament would have a strong Ryder Cup theme in honour of one of the most memorable sporting competitions of recent years.
“We already have five players from The 2012 Ryder Cup competing in this year’s Commercialbank Qatar Masters, as well as the victorious captain, Jose Maria Olazabal, which will make this a special event,” Stevens said.
“We are delighted to confirm the presence of so many leading players from Europe and the US, and will be announcing more world-famous players in the coming days,” he added in a statement. THE PENINSULA