Paul Williams

Paul Williams' Qatar Masters Tips 2022

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With the golfing elite heading to Texas for the World Match Play, the DP World Tour has sneaked the rearranged Qatar Masters into this week, which will complete our early season visits to the Middle East before we head back that way as the season enters its conclusion in November.

After 2 years at the Jose Maria Olazábal-designed Education City Golf Club, we’re heading back to Doha Golf Club this week which means that we can once again review the stats and results from that course over the years, so do bear this in mind when using this week’s event stats.

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Before we go into the detail surrounding the Qatar Masters, we always have new visitors to Golf Betting System as The Masters approaches. Welcome and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published every Tuesday of the golfing calendar), the Steve Bamford Golf Channel on YouTube and our hugely popular, +6,000 strong, private Group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

Doha GC. Designer: Harradine, 1996; Course Type: Desert; Par: 72; Length: 7,401 yards; Water Hazards: 6; Fairways: Bermuda; Rough: Bermuda; Greens: Pure Dynasty Paspalum, 11’6″ on the stimp.

Course Overview. The rearranged Qatar Masters takes us back to the Harradine-designed Doha Golf Club which had hosted this event since its inauguration in 1998 until the event moved to Education City in 2020, giving us plenty of course history stats to review.

At 7,401 yards in length, the course has historically favoured longer hitters when conditions are tranquil; wayward drives aren’t punished as severely as other courses on the circuit with relatively thin rough, allowing the bombers to attack more freely. However the exposed layout is particularly susceptible to wind and even the most tranquil of forecasts in the region can still result in a fair breeze blowing over the track at times, which brings the more controlled ball-strikers into the mix.

The par-72 layout is a conventional pair of 9s with the outward 9 measuring 231 yards longer than the inward 9. The par-5s play amongst the easiest of the holes as you might expect with even the 639 yard 9th playing under par generally, however the driveable par-4 16th is also a birdie and eagle opportunity for most of the field.

qatar masters tips

Tournament Stats. We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s Qatar Masters that will help to shape a view on players who traditionally play well at this event.

As previously noted, Doha hosted this event up to 2019, so the 2020/21 events held at Education City should be considered accordingly: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader Stats | Combined Stats.

Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.

Winners & Prices. 2021: Antoine Rozner, 22/1; 2020: Jorge Campillo, 125/1; 2019: Justin Harding, 55/1; 2018: Eddie Pepperell, 70/1; 2017: Jeunghun Wang, 33/1; 2016: Branden Grace, 8/1; 2015: Branden Grace, 25/1; 2014: Sergio Garcia, 8/1; 2013: Chris Wood, 100/1; 2012: Paul Lawrie, 50/1; 2011: Thomas Bjorn, 200/1; 2010: Robert Karlsson, 66/1.

Weather Forecast. The latest weather forecast for the Doha region in Qatar is here.

Clear skies and temperatures in the mid-80s Fahrenheit will greet the players this week. The wind may well be a significant feature over the weekend, with the breeze picking up to 20-25mph from Saturday onwards and gusts topping 30-35 mph at times.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors. Analysing the final stats of the past 9 winners here at Doha gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:

  • 2019: Justin Harding. 300 yards (31st), 53.6% fairways (20th), 69.4% greens in regulation (50th), 72.7% scrambling (13th), 1.72 putts per GIR (10th).
  • 2018: Eddie Pepperell. 268 yards (77th), 67.9% fairways (3rd), 80.6% greens in regulation (16th), 71.4% scrambling (9th), 1.66 putts per GIR (9th).
  • 2017: Jeunghun Wang. 292 yards (37th), 50% fairways (40th), 77.8% greens in regulation (26th), 68.8% scrambling (7th), 1.71 putts per GIR (15th).
  • 2016: Branden Grace. 306 yards (6th), 46.4% fairways (44th), 76.4% greens in regulation (19th), 76.5% scrambling (3rd), 1.71 putts per GIR (4th).
  • 2015: Branden Grace. 296 yards (9th), 48.2% fairways (61st), 83.3% greens in regulation (3rd), 66.7% scrambling (23rd), 1.63 putts per GIR (2nd).
  • 2014: Sergio Garcia. 300 yards (5th), 51.8% fairways (54th), 75.0% greens in regulation (32nd), 72.2% scrambling (12th), 1.72 putts per GIR (18th).
  • 2013: Chris Wood. 297 yards (13th), 62.5% fairways (17th), 81.9% greens in regulation (6th), 53.8% scrambling (58th), 1.65 putts per GIR (3rd).
  • 2012: Paul Lawrie. 300 yards (9th), 54.8% fairways (23rd), 79.6% greens in regulation (7th), 72.7% scrambling (6th), 1.63 putts per GIR (3rd).
  • 2011: Thomas Bjorn. 288 yards (34th), 42.9% fairways (56th), 77.8% greens in regulation (3rd), 68.8% scrambling (9th), 1.69 putts per GIR (5th).
  • 2010: Robert Karlsson. 296 yards (15th), 57.1% fairways (49th), 77.8% greens in regulation (4th), 68.8% scrambling (11th), 1.63 putts per GIR (4th).

With the exception of Chris Wood in 2013, scrambling ranks are generally high here at Doha and that translates neatly into bogey avoidance with 2019 winner Justin Harding dropping 8 shots over 72 holes. The year before, Eddie Pepperell dropped just 4 shots on the week which is similar to Wang’s 5 Bogeys from 2017 and Grace’s 4 bogeys plus a double the year before that.

The par 3s are the toughest element of the course in my opinion, so picking players with a strong mid-iron game is a positive. This venue is particularly susceptible to the wind, so siding with strong ball-strikers or those with a proven wind/coastal pedigree if the forecast suggests anything other than a flat calm week isn’t a bad move either

Incoming Form: It’s worth noting that all Qatar Masters winners featured in the analysis below had recorded at least one top-13 finish in their previous 7 starts:

  • 2021: Antoine Rozner: 3/36/28/10/21/24/20/1/36/16/9/26
  • 2020: Jorge Campillo: MC/MC/MC/34/28/13/18/34/MC/MC/67/MC
  • 2019: Justin Harding: 43/46/14/4/MC/MC/51/7/11/4/26/MC
  • 2018: Eddie Pepperell: 3/3/MC/7/10/6/34/48/MC/MC/MC/44
  • 2017: Jeunghun Wang: MC/MC/MC/43/MC/13/29/70/13/2/17/MC/11
  • 2016: Branden Grace: 17/3/47/30/17/5/22/3/8/4/4/5
  • 2015: Branden Grace: 46/MC/MC/46/25/21/16/19/9/13/1/15/20
  • 2014: Sergio Garcia: 40/61/29/37/4/18/9/11/4/2/1/19
  • 2013: Chris Wood: 36/12/1/26/WD/43/MC/15/7/10/26/70
  • 2012: Paul Lawrie: 59/35/16/45/59/11/49/MC/46/2/10/8
  • 2011: Thomas Bjorn: 15/MC/MC/11/17/38/5/MC/WD/52/MC/44
  • 2010: Robert Karlsson: 53/71/32/16/MC/MC/33/MC/MC/2/9/60

Event Form. From Justin Harding and back for the events held here at Doha, event history was mixed and certainly not a prerequisite:

  • 2021: Antoine Rozner: 53
  • 2020: Jorge Campillo: 25/MC/MC/62/20/13/2
  • 2019: Justin Harding: Debut
  • 2018: Eddie Pepperell: MC/63/4/MC
  • 2017: Jeunghun Wang: Debut
  • 2016: Branden Grace: 47/6/13/1
  • 2015: Branden Grace: 47/6/13
  • 2014: Sergio Garcia: MC/19/7/7/24/9/5/2
  • 2013: Chris Wood: 14/MC/20
  • 2012: Paul Lawrie: 48/1/27/34/36/69/MC/11/25/46/MC/19/
  • 2011: Thomas Bjorn: MC/MC/23/9/33/60/8
  • 2010: Robert Karlsson: 40/2/MC/25/5/15/22/60/37

A cursory look through the list of winners here screams links golf, which makes a level of sense given the often windswept nature of the course here at Doha, and that could well be accentuated with the weekend forecast this year. This is of course desert golf, however when the breeze picks up it tends to favour a certain type of wind-positive player and with a fairly strong breeze forecast at various parts of the week, I don’t see any reason to overly oppose that train of thought this week.

For me, some positive Middle East form is one element to look at, as is a smattering of recent form without the need for anything too spectacular. Paspalum grass-positive players should also shine on these greens and those players who perform well on par 3s – the toughest part of this track as I’ve mentioned above – should excel.

My selections are as follows:

Marcus Armitage 2pts EW 33/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

Despite moving continents and to a very different test to the altitude-fuelled birdie-fests of the past fortnight, we still have a very similar looking betting market, and that may present us with the opportunity to take on the market leaders.

Dean Burmester, Jordan Smith and George Coetzee are joined by Adri Arnaus for a familiar-looking top of the list, however all 4 have shown enough frailty when presented with an opportunity to win to leave them alone this week in my view.

With the breeze expected to pick up over the weekend, players with a strong ball-striking game, tidy short game and the ability to minimise bogeys may well come to the fore and in that respect Marcus Armitage fits the bill.

Salford-born Armitage is more than comfortable in the breeze, and he proved with his European Open win last June that when his short game is compliant he’s a force to be reckoned with. 11th for SG Approach, 8th for SG Tee to Green, 7th for SG Putting and 3rd for SG Tee to Green proved to be a potent combination on a tricky German course where 8-under was enough to take the title in a reduced 54-hole affair.

12th in Dubai, 9th in Ras al Khaimah, 17th in Kenya and 11th at Pecanwood are all positive outings for the burly 34 year-old since the turn of the year, and even last week’s tie for 40th contained some strong SG Approach and Tee to Green rankings to suggest that he’s only a hot putting week away from another seriously contending performance. RESULT: T5

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John Catlin 1pt EW 66/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

The threat of some tricky conditions over the weekend could benefit a certain type of player, and when the going gets tough John Catlin often shines.

Three wins at DP World Tour level since September 2020 have come at between +2 and -14, however each of those three winning venues presented a challenge at various points in proceedings – in the case of Valderrama it was throughout the week – and he’s the type of stoical character who can seriously grind when required.

30th for Bogey Avoidance for the full 2021 season and in a similar spot from the few counting events in 2022 to date, that ranking is driven by sound scrambling skills to compliment his neat and tidy tee-to-green game, and he should find himself suited to Doha on competitive debut if birdies are at a premium.

9th at the DP World Tour Championship where he led to halfway in November is the American’s most tangible piece of desert form, however that trumps the vast majority of the field this week and anything approaching that level should see him in the mix here.

2020 has started slowly for the 31 year-old with nothing much to note from his early Middle East efforts in Dubai and Ras al Khaimah, however a return to the Asian Tour saw a tie for 12th at a decent renewal of the Royal’s Cup and although he couldn’t follow that up in Thailand the week after, he arrives here after a fortnight’s break refreshed and looking to get his season back on track. RESULT: MC

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Jorge Campillo 1pt EW 66/1 (6EW, 1/5) with William Hill

Another player who should relish a more challenging test this week is Jorge Campillo. Career wins at 9-under (2019 Trophee Hassan II) and 13-under (2020 Qatar Masters at Education City) are both in line with what I expect to see this week, and there have been signs of life in the Spaniard’s game of late.

13th at the Magical Kenya Open came from the group behind eventual winner Ashun Wu, after a Saturday round of 65 had given the 35 year-old a fighting chance heading into the final round. 28th and 25th in low-scoring South African affairs since have kept his eye in on what are less compatible conditions for Campillo, however those results have just about kept him under the radar for this week and at a backable price.

Jorge is already a Qatar Masters winner as previously mentioned, however he does have some strong Doha form to back up that win 2 years ago at nearby Education City. 20th in 2016, 13th in 2017 and 2nd behind Justin Harding in 2019 demonstrates a certain liking for this week’s track, and he’s as comfortable as any here playing in the breeze. RESULT: T65

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Jeff Winther 1pt EW 100/1 – WD Pre-Event

Of the more recent events that could act as a pointer for this week, Jeff Winther’s tie for 6th at the year-opening Abu Dhabi Championship has got to be seen as strong, relevant form.

Played at Yas Links on a course of comparable style and length to Doha, breezy conditions kept a lid on the scoring with eventual winner Thomas Pieters the only player to finish at double-digits under par. Winther’s effort shouldn’t be underestimated though as the lanky Dane had scythed his way through the field in the teeth of the wind on Friday to set himself up for a strong finish at Rolex Series level, and this is a rung or three below that standard here this week.

With his Mallorca Golf Open victory in October getting the 33 year-old off the mark at DP World Tour level, building on that success sooner rather than later wouldn’t surprise and his tie for 14th here at Doha in 2019 is worthy of note. Further efforts of 3rd and 14th at Education City are also strong results in the region, and after a few weeks off he should be recharged and ready to extend his strong Qatar record here this week. Result: WD Pre-Event

Sami Valimaki 1pt EW 150/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Ladbrokes

Finally I’ll take a chance on Sami Valimaki who hinted at some form last week at Steyn City following a tough start to 2022 that had otherwise failed to see the talented Finn finish inside the top 50 from 6 starts.

In truth, 2021 wasn’t a great deal better for the 2020 Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year with not so much as a top-20 finish to his name, so last week’s effort should be taken into context as he looks to build on that in Qatar, which is hardly a million miles away from the scene of his breakthrough victory in Oman in March 2020.

If you’ve been reading my column since around that time, you may recall that the then 21 year-old made a putt from outside of 20 feet to take my 80/1 selection Brandon Stone to a play-off that Valimaki subsequently won, so all will be forgiven if he can make up for that here this week. There had been signs at the Vic Open on his previous start when finishing 7th that he could realise the potential that he’d shown by winning 4 Pro Golf Tour titles the year before, and so it proved.

5th at the DP World Tour Championship to close 2020 makes his subsequent form all the more baffling, having in his own words ‘lost the enjoyment in his game.’ Positive SG rankings in all long game aspects last week in South Africa may help in that respect though and if he has indeed found the answer to his recent challenges then the odds on offer could prove to be overly generous. RESULT: T40

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 16:20GMT 21.3.22 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.