DOHA: World No. 10 Sergio Garcia (pictured right) is determined to win the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters when he competes for the ninth time at Doha Golf Club, which hosts the 17th edition of the tournament from Wednesday to Saturday this week.
Garcia joins World No. 3 Henrik Stenson, 2013 PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner, former World No. 1 Luke Donald, multiple major champions Ernie Els and John Daly, 20-time European Tour winner Miguel Angel Jiménez and titleholder Chris Wood in a strong field.
Garcia, who turned 34 earlier this month, will be among the pre-tournament favourites at the long-standing European Tour event following impressive form in recent events.
The Spanish Ryder Cup hero was fourth at November’s WGC - HSBC Champions in China and last month finished runner-up at the Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa before holding off Stenson and other big names to win the Thailand Golf Championship on the Asian Tour.
“I’ve always loved competing at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters and I feel like I’m getting closer and closer to winning it. The tournament is a fixture at the start of the year for me and I know the course really well, so I will give it my best to win it this year,” said Garcia, a 10-time European Tour winner. “It’s a great line-up again featuring many top players and I know the crowds in Doha always appreciate good golf. I came very close last year, but Chris was a deserving winner after his eagle on the final hole, so hopefully this will be my time. I’m in good form and always looking to win.”
Garcia finished joint runner-up behind Wood last January for his fifth top-10 finish in seven straight appearances in Doha from 2007, having first played in the tournament as a 19-year-old in 1999, the year he became The Ryder Cup’s youngest player.
After tying for ninth in 2011 and fifth in 2012, it looked as though it might finally be Garcia’s turn last year when he shot a closing 66 to match George Coetzee’s 17-under clubhouse total of 271.
Garcia looked set for at least a play-off before Wood, the overnight leader, overtook the pair with a spectacular eagle on the 18th to secure his maiden European Tour title.
“I was really happy for Chris,” he said. “I played well, so did George, and we posted a good target, so if someone can beat that with an eagle on 18, I take my hat off to him. However, having come close many times, I would really like to win the trophy myself.”
Hassan Al Nuaimi, President, Qatar Golf Association, also believes Garcia will be among the leading contenders at Doha Golf Club, where the Spaniard is always a crowd favourite.
“It is always a pleasure to welcome Sergio Garcia back to the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters and we are truly delighted that he’s back for an eighth straight year,” Al Nuaimi said. “Sergio has long been one of the tournament’s most loyal supporters and most popular players, which is obvious when you see fans following him on and off the golf course.”