Spain’s Sergio Garcia is looking to shake off his winter rust and make a flying start to his year when he tees up in the Commercialbank Qatar Masters presented by Dolphin Energy on Thursday.
Garcia, the World Number 12 and one of nine players in the field from the top 25 in the Official World Golf Rankings, is making his first appearance of 2008 after a winter break hoping to rekindle the memories of his a final round of 67 last year on his return to Doha Golf Club.
“I am still trying to get some rhythm and I’m a little rusty but I am looking forward to getting some good momentum and a good sensation going forward,” he said. “I have been practising hard on every part of my game trying to get ready.”
Garcia has put the disappointment of losing out to Padraig Harrington in The Open Championship at Carnoustie last year behind him and once again is targeting Major Championship success this year.
“I am looking forward to the year,” he commented. “I saw some nice things last year so hopefully I can get comfortable and see if I can win a Major. That’s my goal. The Open last year was unfortunate but it was a good experience for me. The whole week was a good learning experience. It is just a matter of keep working on it, giving myself chances and I know they will come.”
The Ryder Cup at Valhalla is also firmly on the Spaniard’s radar as he looks to make a fifth successive appearance for Europe in the biennial team event.
“The Ryder Cup is huge, we all know that. That’s why I want my game to be as good as it can be from the start to get as many points as possible and make sure I get on that team. There are a lot of youngsters coming up and I think it could be very interesting. We could have one of the youngest teams we have ever had and I am excited about that.”
Adam Scott, the World Number Eight and highest ranked player in the field, is another player looking to mount a strong title challenge on his return the Doha GC for the first time since his victory here six years ago.
“It is great to be back,” he said. “It’s been a long time but it has gone quite quickly. The course is a bit longer than I remember it so I have to get used to some different tee shots but apart from that it is pretty much as I remember and I certainly had good feelings walking down the fairways and remembering the good shots.
“It was a big win for me. It was my second win on Tour and people say the second win might be harder than the first. It certainly felt that way. At the time it had been 14 months since my first win in 2001 so it was a while coming. It kicked off a good 2002 on The European Tour as I had another good win that year and followed it with another good year in 2003 with wins in Europe and America. It got my career going.
“Since then I have matured as a golfer, and my short game’s improved 100% since then. I am certainly a better golfer now than I was then.”
Meanwhile, defending champion Retief Goosen was forced to withdraw on the eve of the tournament with an eye injury.