Retief Goosen competing at the 2012 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. RIGHT: Els in action at the 2009 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters
Doha: The 2012 Open Champion and past US Open Champion Ernie Els and the two-time US Open Champion Retief Goosen will each aim to win the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters for a second time when the two South African legends compete in the tournament’s 16th edition at Doha Golf Club (DGC) next week, from January 23-26.
Els, the popular four-time Major winner, lifted the Mother of Pearl Trophy on his Doha debut in 2005 and is still bidding to add to that title after returning in 2006, 2007 – when he finished third, two shots behind champion Goosen – and 2009.
One of the greats of the modern game, Els is confident of being among the main contenders in Doha next week, when the 27-time European Tour winner will be seeking to join Adam Scott (2002, 2008) and holder Paul Lawrie (1999, 2012) as a two-time champion.
“I have good memories of the Qatar Masters, especially after I won in 2005 when I played really well on the final day (shooting a 65). I enjoyed going back to Doha the next few years and also played pretty well in 2007, when I came third and Retief was champion,” said Els, a former world number one who has spent a record 788 weeks in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Ranking. “I’ve played well over the past year and I’d certainly expect to be a contender this time. It would be great to start the year by lifting the Mother of Pearl Trophy for a second time, especially after lifting the Claret Jug for a second time last year.”
Goosen, also 43, recorded an impressive wire-to-wire win in the 2007 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, his first appearance at Doha Golf Club since competing in the first two editions in 1998 – when he finished fifth – and 1999.
Although the two-time US Open champion had to withdraw due to injury ahead of his title defence in 2008, he has competed in every event from the following year and is now preparing for his eighth appearance in Doha where he will bid to add to his 14 European Tour victories.
“I always like returning to a course where I’ve won before and it’s nice that Ernie will also be playing this year. We’ve played together in the event a few times and it’ll be good to do that again,” said Goosen, .Hassan Al Nuaimi, President of the Qatar Golf Association, is delighted that Els and Goosen are both returning to the Doha Golf Club, especially with the former as a reigning Major Champion.
Andrew Stevens, Group Chief Executive Officer of Commercial Bank of Qatar, is proud that the tournament continues to attract the biggest names in golf.
“It is an honour that Major winners of Ernie’s and Retief´s stature will return to compete in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in Doha,” Stevens said.