Chris Wood hangs on to win in Qatar
Chris Wood made eagle on the par-5 18th in Qatar this morning to win the Commercialbank Qatar Masters by one shot over Sergio Garcia and George Coetzee. It’s the first European Tour win for the 25-year old Englishman, who carried a three-shot lead over Garcia entering Saturday’s final round.
Wood got off to a shaky start. After making a pair of pars to open his round, Wood made a double-bogey on the par-3 third and bogeyed the par-4 6th. While Wood was struggling, Garcia and Coetzee were going low, combining for 13 birdies and an eagle on Saturday, with both men ending up at 17-under par when their rounds were complete. Wood went on to birdie the 8th, 9th and 14th to get to 16-under par when he approached the 18th. After a perfect drive down the middle of the fairway, Wood had just over 200 yards to go and he stuck it on the green, leaving him with about eight feet to pick up the victory, while a two-putt would force a three-way playoff. Wood confidently drained the putt, giving him the victory in Qatar, his first on the European Tour.
Notes about Wood and the victory
- This has been a long time coming for Wood, who along with Coetzee, was widely considered the best player on the European Tour without a victory. He had put together three runner up finishes and 19 top-10’s before this win.
- Wood gets a two-year exemption on the European Tour through 2015.
- Wood gets into this year’s WGC-Bridgestone and WGC-HSBC Champions, as well as next year’s Volvo Champions in South Africa.
- With the win, he moves inside the top-60 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Assuming that he stays inside the top-64, he’ll be eligible to play in the WGC-Accenture Match Play this March in Arizona.
The case for easing up on the Rules of Golf
The video linked here (thanks to the European Tour who doesn’t allow embedded video) is from Wednesday’s opening round. Justin Rose was about to tap his ball in for par, when he noticed it moving, so he called over an official. There’s great audio of the discussion between Rose, Martin Kaymer, Louis Oosthuizen and the rules official, with the official basically admitting that even though it was 50-50 that Rose’s putter had nothing to do with the ball moving, he had to penalize him a stroke. Looking at the video, I still can’t see it move, and neither did the commentators, but that’s the honesty with which these guys play the game.
My problem with the rule in this instance is that there’s too much of a grey area here. The official said that if the wind had moved the ball after Rose grounded his club, there would be no penalty, but they were going to go on the assumption that the putter being grounded behind the ball was what made it move. It’s impossible to know what moved the ball, especially when it’s obvious that Rose never touched it.
My favourite part of the video comes in at the 2:54 mark. Rose is told that he must replace his ball back to the original spot, even though it only moved slightly. Under his breath, you can definitely hear Rose mutter, “That’s fucking stupid.”
Other notes from Qatar
- I mentioned this on Twitter the other day, but I’m going to talk about it again. Sergio Garcia is in for a monster year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he finally gets that major win that has eluded him to this point in his career. He’s been lights out since he had eye surgery, winning once and posting three other top-10’s in four events. Get your money in on him now before he has even more success prior to the golf season really getting underway in a couple of weeks.
- Another tough beat for George Coetzee, who ends up with another runner-up finish. The guy is too talented to not win an event soon, and I think 2013 is the year for him. I said it a few weeks ago, but he’s definitely the most anonymous player inside the top-50 in the OWGR.
- Three consecutive top-10 finishes for Branden Grace after this week, and back-to-back T-10’s for Jason Dufner and Martin Kaymer. Considering that a lot of people were predicting poor seasons for those three, they have kicked off their campaigns on the right foot.
- Just an awful week for Ernie Els, who finished second from the bottom with scores of 72-71-74-76.
Next week, the European Tour is back in Dubai for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, where we should see the 2013 season debut of Lee Westwood.