2014 Commercialbank Qatar Masters Betting Preview

Henrik Stenson after winning Sweden's male athlete of the year. (Courtesy: herman.caroan)

Henrik Stenson after winning Sweden’s male athlete of the year. (Courtesy: herman.caroan)

The European Tour’s middle east swing continues this week with a Wednesday start in Qatar as Chris Wood is set to defend his title against a quality field at the Commercialbank Qatar Masters.

2014 Commercialbank Qatar Masters Fact Sheet

  • Course: Doha Golf Club
  • Location: Doha, Qatar
  • Yardage: 7,400 yards, par 72
  • Defending Champion: Chris Wood
  • Five Consensus Favourites: Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Thomas Bjorn and Jason Dufner

TV Schedule

  • Wednesday – 5:00 AM to 8:00 AM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Thursday – 4:30 AM to 8:00 AM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Friday – 4:30 AM to 8:30 AM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Saturday – 6:00 AM to 8:30 AM ET (Golf Channel)

Key Storyline(s) This Week

The big thing for me this week is going to be watching how Henrik Stenson responds after missing the cut last week in Abu Dhabi. It was his first missed cut anywhere in the world since last year’s Wells Fargo Championship, a string of twenty consecutive events. There’s obviously no need to sound the alarms or anything here, as I’m fully confident that Stenson is going to be just fine, but seeing him miss the cut last week was something that I wasn’t expecting. Outside of that, there are a couple of smaller things I’m interested in:

  • Sergio Garcia didn’t seem to be bothered after the first round by the shoulder injury that he suffered early in Abu Dhabi. We’ll see how he does this week at a course that he has enjoyed in the past.
  • Ernie Els is making his 2014 debut, one that will see him with another new club manufacturer as the 4-time major winner signed on with Adams Golf a few weeks ago.
  • John Daly is also in the field and he hasn’t been awful to start 2014, and he’s always an interesting guy to keep an eye on.

Doha Golf Club

Doha used to be the longest course on the European Tour, and while that isn’t the case anymore, it’s still very long at 7400 yards. The leader in driving distance hasn’t won this event since 2009 though, when the big hitting Alvaro Quiros took it home. Last year, it was Chris Wood, 13th in driving distance but first in par-4 scoring average, who made eagle on the par-5 18th to beat George Coetzee and Sergio Garcia by one shot. The players seem to really like the course, with lots of doglegs and water coming into play on six of the eighteen holes, and with the location of the course being in the desert, rain is a rarity. The key holes to watch:

  • 223-yard par-3 5th: Played as the toughest hole on the course last year at a 3.26 stroke average. It’s long enough to pose problems, especially with the water surrounding all areas of the green. Four pars here for the week will be a good thing.
  • 639-yard par-5 9th: The sheer length of this hole makes it one to watch. Finding the fairway is pretty essential here, as the rough can eliminate getting on the green in three if it’s in the wrong spot.
  • 186-yard par-3 13th: Always one of the tougher holes on the course, the 13th isn’t that long by today’s standards, but bunkers surround the green and are ready to catch anything wayward. The green with several undulations presents challenges as well.
  • 589-yard par-5 18th: As mentioned above, Wood made eagle here last year to claim the victory and while it’s not the most difficult hole out there, that’s exactly why it’s one to watch. The players who can play this hole in five or six-under par this week will be in a great spot.

Thoughts On The Favourites

  • Henrik Stenson: I mentioned above that he missed the cut last week, so it’s going to be interesting to see how he rebounds this week on a course that he’s had success on previously. From 2005-2009, he finished no worse than 7th, including a win back in 2006. There’s been some poor finishes here too, but those kinda fall in line with his drought as well.
  • Sergio Garcia: Garcia has played here every year since 2007 and hasn’t finished outside of the top-25, with last year’s runner-up being his best finish. He rebounded well after that shoulder injury in round one last week to finish inside the top-20, but it should be a bit of a concern heading into this week.
  • Martin Kaymer: Kaymer didn’t contend at any point last week in Abu Dhabi which was shocking considering his track record at Abu Dhabi GC. Back to back top-10’s here in 2013 and 2012, but I’m staying away here.
  • Thomas Bjorn: Four consecutive top-10’s for the Great Dane and he is a previous champion, having won here back in 2011, so it’s understandable if you like him this week. As usual, the putter has been on fire for him in the last few weeks, which is never a bad thing.
  • Jason Dufner: Dufner played here last year for the first time, and got into the top-10 after rounds of 71-70-67-69. He played well at Kapalua with a T5, and probably played better than he finished at the Sony with three rounds in the 60’s.

Suggested Plays

George Coetzee (Best Odds 30-1 at Stan James)

I’m not crazy about the board this week, especially with the top players for various reasons, so these will all be each-way suggestions, starting with Coetzee. He’s still looking for his first European Tour win, and I really thought it was going to happen here last year when Wood nipped him at the end. Good finish last week getting into a tie for fourth, and he says that he’s healthy after breaking his wrist towards the end of 2013, which caused a poor run of results.

Alvaro Quiros (Best Odds 45-1 at Unibet)

When Quiros was healthy, he was a real force, winning here once and posting two runner-ups as well. He’s been slowly returning to form, and while I don’t think he wins this week, I think it’s very likely that he comes in here and plays well enough to get into contention.

Thongchai Jaidee (Best Odds 56-1 at Betfair)

Jaidee really is one of my favourite European Tour players, as he’s just a steady player that you can usually count on to never play himself too far out of a tournament. He made 27 of 31 cuts in 2013 worldwide, and has cracked the top-10 in each of his last four starts, including last week in Abu Dhabi. He’s made 10 of 11 cuts here at the course, including last year’s T9 after rounds of 70-69-70-68.

Johan Carlsson (Best Odds 132-1 at Betfair)

Going based almost entirely on last week’s form here where a final round 65 got Carlsson into a tie for 7th. He had a great stretch on the European Challenge Tour last year where he had four straight top-10’s, including a win in Kazakhstan. I’m betting on the fact that he’s likely a streaky player, and that he could crack another top-10, or maybe top-5 this week. First round leader bet of roughly 75-1 isn’t bad either.

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