Tuesday, 26 January 2016
Sergio Garcia  (Getty Images)
Sergio Garcia (Getty Images)

Sergio Garcia will make his first appearance of the 2016 season on a happy hunting ground when he tees it up for the 11th time at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters this week.

The 2014 champion missed the cut on his first visit to Doha Golf Club in 1999 but returned in 2007 and has played every year since, with five other top tens complementing that victory two years ago.

The Spaniard has finished in the top five in three of the last four events and is glad to be back on a course that he admits suits him very well.

"I feel quite comfortable on the golf course," he said. "It kind of caught my eye the first time I played it and I played it pretty much every year since.

I obviously like what I see out there, and when you can play on one of those courses that you feel comfortable, usually you seem to do fairly well - Sergio Garcia

"I'm excited about it. I've obviously always enjoyed coming back here to Qatar to the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. The course is good.

"It's getting wind and it's supposed to get even windier, so it's not going to be easy, but the course looks in very, very good shape and it's always a good week to start my year, so I'm looking forward to it."

Garcia burst onto the scene in 1999 at the age of 19, winning two European Tour titles to finish third in the Order of Merit as he started out on a career that has so far brought him 11 European Tour wins.

Rickie Fowler's victory last week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship moved him up World Number Four,  meaning all of the top four players in the Official World Golf Ranking are now under 30, with Jason Day the elder statesman at 28 ahead of Fowler, 27, Rory McIlroy, 26 and 22 year old Jordan Spieth.

Louis Oosthuizen has said that the 30-somethings now need to "work harder" to catch their youthful counterparts but Garcia, who turned 36 earlier this month, does not believe he has to change the system that has worked for him for 17 years on Tour.

"My appetite is the same," he said. "Obviously it's nice to see a lot of these young guys playing and playing well, because that means that the future of the game is in good hands.

"But my appetite is still the same. Obviously I love playing golf, I enjoy every minute of it, and I try to push myself to become better every year, better and more consistent. That hasn't changed."

Matthew Fitzpatrick is one of the bright young things currently emerging on The European Tour after claiming ten top tens in his rookie season including victory at the British Masters supported by Sky Sports.

The 21 year old was part of the victorious European Team at the EURASIA CUP presented by DRB-HICOM earlier this month and Garcia believes he could make an impact at The Ryder Cup later this year as Europe go for four wins in a row.

"He has a good chance of making the team," said Garcia, who tees up with Fitzpatrick and defending champion Branden Grace at 11.40 on Wednesday. "He's been playing very well, and he's got a lot of potential. 

"He looks like the kind of player that could definitely make the team, the odds are definitely looking good.

"I would probably expect to see at least four or five new faces. That's the way it looks at the moment. You never know as the year goes by. But at the moment it looks like there's probably at least between three and five young guys that could be on that team in September."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1GRACE, BrandenRSA18-14
T2CABRERA-BELLO, RafaESP18-12
T2OLESEN, ThorbjørnDEN18-12
T4DREDGE, BradleyWAL18-11
T4JOHNSTON, AndrewENG18-11
T4SLATTERY, LeeENG18-11

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