Friday, 19 March 2010

Sweden's Henrik Stenson hopes to mark the tenth anniversary of the Commercialbank Qatar Masters by becoming the event's first repeat champion this week.
 
The World Number 14 takes on a star-studded field at the Doha Golf Club, knowing that in the history of the event, there has never been a successful title defence.
 
"It hasn't been defended yet. So, you know, it would be a good thing to do," said Stenson. "Obviously it will be tough. We have a very strong field at the tournament this year, a lot of really good players. And to be able to defend takes some really good golfing on my behalf, and I can just go out there and try and do it," he added.
 
Hailed as "the next special one" by last year's runner-up Paul Broadhurst, Stenson has grown in stature and could well be the one to write a slice of history at the Commercialbank Qatar Masters, jointly sanctioned by The European Tour and the Asian Tour.
 
"That's one of the nicest things when you get your colleagues to say nice things about your game and as a person. I don't know if he said it as a person, but about the game at least," said Stenson.
 
"The course suits me pretty well. It's great to be back and playing a really good course here that I enjoy playing. I've had some really good success the last two years being second and first, and so anything close to that would be a great week obviously."
 
South African stars Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, ranked fifth and ninth in the world respectively, will headline the field which includes six of Stenson's teammates from Europe's victorious Ryder Cup Team while Asia's challenge will be carried by UBS Order of Merit winner Jeev Milkha Singh of India.
 
Darren Clarke is one of those Ryder Cup team mates and is making his first start in a European Tour event of the year and only his fifth strokeplay since his wife, Heather, lost her brave fight against cancer in August.

“It's a new start for me again and I've got to get back into my job and I want to do that,” said Clarke. “I want to try and get back to competing regularly.  I'm 42nd now in the World Rankings through having not played, and I want to try and get myself back up that ranking again.  And the only way I can do is it is from playing well and hopefully that's what I'm going to do.”

Clarke shook off some of the rust at The Royal Trophy in Bangkok a fortnight ago and is keen to get back into the cut and thrust of competition over the next three weeks, starting in Qatar.

“I got back into the rhythm of things in Bangkok and  I'm playing this week, next week and Malaysia,” he said. “So I have three tournaments in a row that I want to get back trying to compete again.
 
“My game was a bit rusty in Bangkok, which wasn't surprising because I played five tournaments since last July, so I'm obviously short of competition, but I managed to do reasonably okay there, so I'm looking forward to trying to get myself back into position to challenge again the next three weeks if I can.”

European Tour Player of the Year for 2006, Paul Casey, winner of last week’s Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, is also in action looking for back-to-back victories in the Gulf.

“Henrik came very close last year with the runner up in Abu Dhabi and the win here, and it set him up beautifully for the rest of the year and got him up in the World Rankings, so that would be great,” said Casey. “There are lots of World Ranking points to play for this week.  I was actually shocked I only moved up one spot last week.

“But if I keep playing golf like I did last week, hopefully I'll get to that World top ten.”


 

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1GOOSEN, RetiefRSA18-15
2O'HERN, NickAUS18-14
3ELS, ErnieRSA18-13
T4GREEN, RichardAUS18-12
T4APPLEBY, StuartAUS18-12
T4MCDOWELL, GraemeNIR18-12
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