Scotsman Paul Lawrie is delighted to be back at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, where 12 months ago his convincing victory sparked a tremendous season.
The 44 year old signed off with a stunning seven under par 65 to win by four at Doha Golf Club, having led by one shot at the start of the final round, and went on to record six more top ten finishes in 2012, including another triumph, at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.
Lawrie was also part of Europe’s Ryder Cup heroics at Medinah Country Club, his qualification for the team helped significantly by his success in the second part of The European Tour’s annual Desert Swing.
“Qatar was a big, big moment last year, it was huge,” he said. “It was very important and the confidence you get from winning, obviously with a field as good as we had last year, was huge.
“It's always nice to come back to a venue that you've done well at before and I've managed to have couple of good weeks here over the years. I enjoy the course; it's windy and very tricky you've got to control the flight of your ball, which I enjoy. A bit of a challenge, and I'm looking forward to it.
“It's hugely satisfying when you tee off in the final round one ahead and then shoot seven under like I did. You can't ask any more of a golfer because you don't sleep much on Saturday night. Apart from Malaga (the 2011 Open de Andalucia) I had not won for nine years.
“So Sunday was a huge day, to get over the line again. I played beautifully on the Sunday, and I could easily have been two or three back, without being silly. I just hit the ball extremely well.”
Only Lawrie, who also triumphed in 1999, and Adam Scott have won the Qatar Masters title more than once, and to complete the hat-trick the Aberdeen man will have to contend with a stellar field which features World Numbers Four and Five Justin Rose and Louis Oosthuizen.
“It's a great field this week,” said the 1999 Open Champion. “Everywhere you look, there are top players at this tournament. The golf course is high quality. Everyone likes it and everyone's friendly and you get looked after well here as a player. The field is growing in strength every year and this year is one of the strongest events.”
Last year’s edition was reduced to 54 holes as high winds disrupted play, and although Lawrie is notoriously adept to tricky conditions, he is glad to hear the forecast is much calmer this year.
“I certainly don't wish for the wind, but when it comes, it doesn't bother me,” he said. “I would rather have it calm like everyone else. It's easier when it's calm - you get more chances at birdie.
“But when it is windy, you just have to get on with it. There’s not much you can do; no one is going to turn the wind off when you tee off. If the wind is there, you get the ball back in your stance, you hit it a bit softer and keep it down. It's quite simple really.”