Thomas Björn will return to Doha this week looking to recreate the spark which helped him to victory in the the Commercialbank Qatar Masters presented by Dolphin Energy 12 months ago; a triumph which set him on the road to his most successful season to date on The European Tour in terms of wins.
The 40 year old Dane recovered from an opening 74 at Doha Golf Club last year to storm home with subsequent rounds of 65-66-69 for a 14 under par total of 274 and a four shot winning margin over Spain’s Alvaro Quiros.
Björn later claimed the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles and the Omega European Masters in consecutive weeks to help him finish ninth in The Race to Dubai, his best finish since he ended 2003 in eighth position on the rankings.
“You always go back with fond memories to a golf course you've won on,” said Björn. “I won in Portugal in 2010 (the Estoril Open de Portugal), but to do it in a field that was a lot stronger meant a lot – it was a very special week for me.
“I have to say that the way I played coming down the stretch was excellent and it laid a lot of the groundwork for what I did the rest of the year. It was definitely a change for me mentally.
“In the past I found it very difficult to get into positions to win golf tournaments, but in Qatar I suddenly realised that when I get into such positions, I am quite capable of getting over the line. I think that was a big difference, and it showed again in Scotland and in Switzerland; that when I'm there on a Sunday I can, at times, be very difficult to beat.
“I've said before that if there was one downside of last season, it was that the consistency was not there for me. There was a little bit too much poor play but, balancing that up, the great was really good. That's what you've got to take and then you can build into a new season, and I'm looking forward to this season as I feel my game is in a better place than it's probably been for a while.”
Björn proved that last week with a solid showing in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship where he finished in a tie for third spot, two shots adrift of champion Robert Rock. He admitted, however, that he will have to show similar resilience at Doha Golf Club where the ever present shamal winds make the course a testing examination.
“The wind that can be in Qatar can make for very tough days out on the course. On those occasions you take a par, and then just try and roll in a few here and there for birdie if you have the chance.
“It's a fantastic place to go and play on a course like Doha and like the ones we play in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. It's got a great history on our Tour, and that's what you want. This is a fantastic swing for us on three magnificent golf courses.”
Bjorn will be joined in Doha by a high quality field which is headlined by two of the players currently in the top four of the Official World Golf Ranking - England’s Lee Westwood and Germany’s Martin Kaymer - plus Spain’s Alvaro Quiros and Sweden’s Robert Karlsson, the two champions who preceeded Bjorn, as well as South Korea’s KJ Choi and Hunter Mahan of the United States.