Ryder Cup heroes Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer will both return to Doha Golf Club to compete in this month’s US$2.5 million Commercial Bank Qatar Masters from January 23-26.
The pair, who have each won ten European Tour titles, are strong supporters of the event, where this year Ryder Cup team-mate Paul Lawrie will defend his crown over the 7,374-yard links-style layout designed by Peter Harradine.
Garcia tied for fifth last year for his fourth top-ten finish in six straight appearances at Doha Golf Club, while Kaymer, the 2010 US PGA Champion and a former World Number One, has competed since 2008 and enjoyed a best finish of joint ninth last year.
Garcia, who turns 33 on Wednesday, will be among the pre-tournament favourites at the long-standing European Tour event after showing excellent form in recent months.
After claiming his eighth US PGA Tour title at the Wyndham Championship in August, the Spaniard helped Europe retain The Ryder Cup in September by beating Jim Furyk in Sunday’s singles, before winning the Asian Tour’s Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia last month with a closing 61.
“I’ve always enjoyed playing the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, as I like the course at Doha Golf Club. I’ve played well there most times and it will be nice to compete there again after a pretty exciting season,” said Garcia, who first played in the tournament as a 19-year-old in 1999, the year he became youngest player to play in The Ryder Cup.
“It was special for me to win another title in the US last year and then win The Ryder Cup again, especially with José Maria Olazábal as Captain. It was a particularly emotional event for all of us from Spain and I’m so glad José could lift the trophy. We always get tremendous support in Qatar and I’m proud we’ll be returning there as Ryder Cup winners.”
Kaymer, 28, is also in confident mood after winning last month’s lucrative Nedbank Golf Challenge on the Sunshine Tour, holding off the likes of South African Major winners Charl Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen, and former World Number One Lee Westwood.
It marked the German’s first victory of the year and followed an amazing ten European Tour wins in four seasons from 2008, including four victories in 2010 that helped him win The Race to Dubai and top the Official World Golf Ranking for eight weeks in early 2011.
Like Garcia, Kaymer is assured of a warm reception in Doha after sinking the crucial putt which ensured The Ryder Cup was retained by Europe, his pressure-packed par putt on the 18th securing a one hole victory over Steve Stricker in the singles and sealing the ‘Miracle at Medinah’.
“I’m keen to get my 2013 season off to a good start so I’m excited about competing again at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. I feel like I’ve played better each time I’ve competed there,” said Kaymer, who is looking to add to the three Gulf victories in nearby Abu Dhabi.
“I’m playing well again after a slow start to last season and it was great to finish the year with a trophy in South Africa, especially after all the excitement of The Ryder Cup, which was amazing. I may never experience a moment like that again, making a winning putt for your team, and I’m still proud I was able to come through for my teammates, my Captain and our fans. That did a lot for my confidence.”
Hassan Al Nuaimi, President of the Qatar Golf Association, believes the return of both Garcia and Kaymer will help ensure another top-class event for golf fans in Doha.
“It is very exciting that Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer will return to Doha Golf Club after playing such a major role in Europe’s outstanding Ryder Cup victory,” Al Nuaimi said. “They are two of the world’s top players and are both in good form after victories in December. I expect both of them to be among the top contenders at the 16th Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.”
Andrew Stevens, Group Chief Executive Officer of Commercial Bank of Qatar, said more top-class players would be confirmed ahead of the event, which is positioned at the heart of The European Tour’s Middle East swing.
“We really appreciate the strong support from European Tour stars like Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer, along with our defending champion Paul Lawrie,” Stevens said. “We will soon announce several more world-famous players, whose participation should make for a very exciting event.”
Paul Lawrie (1999, 2012) and Adam Scott (2002, 2008) are the only two-time winners of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, while other champions include multiple Major winners Ernie Els (2005) and Retief Goosen (2007).