Our tips for the 2013 edition of this event will be published on this page on the Tuesday before the event - bookmark this page and come back soon! Other Jan 2013 events: Volvo Golf Champions, Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship & Dubai Desert Classic. In the meantime you can check out our stats pages for the Commercialbank Qatar Masters in our stats section.
Our 2nd of 3 events in the desert takes us to Qatar for another mouth-watering contest with a whole host of World-class players in attendance. Tiger Woods has flown back to the USA however in his place we have another talented American in Hunter Mahan, plus there's a strong contingent of European Tour top brass with Westwood, Garcia, Kaymer, McDowell, Quiros, Karlsson and Goosen all in the field.
The Harradine-designed Doha Golf Club has hosted this event since its inauguration in 1998 so we have plenty of history to fall back on. At 7,388 yards the course has historically favoured the 'bomber' - wayward drives aren't punished as severely as other courses on the European Tour circuit, particularly with the rough expected to be a little thinner this year than in previous years. The real premium though tends to be on finding the exposed greens in regulation and those who favour the Bermuda putting surface. The par 3s are the toughest element of the course in my opinion, so picking players with a strong mid-iron game is also a positive.
One aspect of play at Doha is the wind - it's often quite a breezy event and this year is likely to be no different with 30km/h winds forecast for the first 2 days before it drops away a little over the weekend. Playing in that kind of breeze certainly isn't everyone's cup of tea and you'll tend to find the same names gravitating to the top of the leaderboard year after year.
There's a case to be made for an awful lot of players this week, however some of the bigger names certainly haven't had all their own way here over the last few years: Westwood's form of MC/34/5/27/3/MC hardly inspires confidence at a miserly 10/1 whereas 14/1 shot Martin Kaymer's MC/31/32/28 form line suggests he's best left alone, particularly after last week's distant missed cut on his favourite course. Instead I'm going for some players who have shown form either in this event or similar events where wind is a factor. My selections this week are as follows:
I've been keeping a close eye on the big Swede over the last few weeks and now's the time to invest in my opinion. Karlsson has been kind to us recently with a 50/1 winner in Dubai just over 12 months ago, plus an each way payout in the PGA Championship at 100/1 - the price is more miserly this week but that's a fair reflection on his chances in my opinion.
The 11-time European Tour winner's last 2 victories came in the far East, including success here in 2010, and current form of 11/12/24 in strong fields suggests a player who is very close to breaking through once again. Karlsson's never missed a cut in Qatar from 10 attempts and averages just over 70 for all rounds played here. As well as his victory the year before last, he also has a runners-up finish in 2001 as well as 5th and 6th place finishes over the years - in short he plays very well here! From reading his twitter and facebook updates, it's clear that the Swede feels his game is getting closer to its best and he may well string the 4 good rounds required to take victory this week without the pressure of playing with the likes of Woods & McIlroy which he endured, rather than enjoyed, last week. RESULT: MC
Defending champion Bjorn is almost impossible to leave off the staking plan this week after bouncing back to form with an 11-under weekend in Abu Dhabi which catapulted him into 3rd place. His immaculate tee-to-green game was in full flow as we've been accustomed to in recent times (he led the field in terms of accuracy and hit 3/4 of his greens), however it was a return to form with the putter that excites most as he needed just 52 putts over the weekend in Abu Dhabi - that sets him in great stead for a successful defence of his Qatar Masters crown.
As well as last year's victory, Bjorn has also racked up finishes of 8th (2010) and 9th (2006) and clearly enjoys playing in the far East with a further victory in Dubai back in 2001. If the forecast wind does arrive then Bjorn will be one of the best equipped to succeed: he's a past master at handling the elements and can play the kind of shots required to excel when all around him are crumbling - his 5-shot victory in Estoril in 2010 is a great example and this could be a repeat performance if the Doha breeze picks up as expected. RESULT: T25
1999 Open Champion Paul Lawrie is a must-pick on current form - he's playing some outstanding and consistent golf at present and it's surely just a matter of time before he adds to his win tally. 2nd in Dubai, 10th at Fancourt and 8th last week in Abu Dhabi is an excellent return in some strong, strong fields and there's no reason why he shouldn't keep competing this week on a course where he tasted victory 5 months prior to his triumph at Carnoustie.
If the forecast wind does materialise then, like Bjorn, Lawrie will be even more favoured - wins at St Andrews in tough conditions back in 2001 as well as his Open victory are testament to that - at 50/1 well worth a punt in my view, especially with the 6 places each way being offered by Ladbrokes. RESULT: Winner
Inconsistent Scot Marc Warren scraped only just scraped his card in 114th place largely to an excellent 5th place finish at St Andrews back in the autumn - that was his first and only top 10 of 2011 on the European Tour, however the 2-time winner is a far better player than that in my opinion. 2012 got off to a much better start with 3rd place in Joburg before taking the weekend off in Abu Dhabi - now that he's acclimatised I'm expecting a much more accomplished performance on a course where he's finished inside the top 20 on 2 of his 3 attempts here.
Both of Warren's wins have come off the back of a missed cut so don't let last week's performance put you off, plus his wins at Malmo (2-time Qatar winner Adam Scott is also a winner there) and Gleneagles (again Scott, plus defending champion Bjorn are winners there) both bode well for this week. 150/1 with Fred is well worth taking on at small stakes. RESULT: T35
Like last week's selection Keith Horne, who shot a creditable 2-under on Thursday despite 3 bogeys from holes 16-18 (his front 9), Damien McGrane is another of those players who I look out for in First Round Leader markets. His past results are littered with fast starts on a Thursday, the most recent of which was in Joburg a fortnight ago where his opening 63 was good enough for a share of the lead. He bombed out the rest of that week and missed the cut in Abu Dhabi, however he returns this week to course where he's had moderate success (4th in 2009 was his best finish) and a repeat of some of his best rounds of 66/67 could get him into the mix after day 1. RESULT: T118
Odds and bookmaker offers correct 20:00GMT 31.1.12 but naturally subject to fluctuation.
Our tips, picks and predictions for the 2013 edition of this event will be published here on the Tuesday before the event - bookmark this page and come back soon!