Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Boo Weekley (above) and Sergio Garcia (right), two world-ranked stars in Doha field.

Qatar Masters' field European strongest

outside of Open and PGA Championship

Doha (QATAR): The 2009 Commercialbank Qatar Masters, presented by Dolphin Energy, which gets underway at Doha Golf Club tomorrow boasts the strongest field in the history of golf in the Middle East, as determined by the World Ranking Field Rating.
Organised by the Qatar Golf Association (QGA), the Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) and Commercialbank, the US$ 2.5 million tournament also features the strongest field of any European Tour event outside of the Open Championship and BMW PGA Championship since records began.
It marks a remarkable rise to prominence by an event that launches its twelfth edition with eighteen of the world’s top 50 players in the 120-man field.
With so many big name players competing, the event offers players a higher number of world ranking points than any golf event ever staged in the Middle East – and firmly places the Doha event at the forefront of golf in the region.
Sergio Garcia, Robert Karlsson, Henrik Stenson, Lee Westwood, Adam Scott, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Boo Weekley, Colin Montgomerie, Paul Casey and Justin Rose are all in the hunt making the line-up for the Commercialbank Qatar Masters, presented by Dolphin Energy, read like a Who’s Who of the world game.
For US Ryder Cup star Weekley, it’s his first trip to the 7,388-yard Doha Golf Club and the popular American is ready to hit the ground running after a 22-hour flight from Hawaii.
“I'm curious to see everything,” said Weekley just minutes after arriving at the course. “I’m ready to get out there and see it. I heard to bring a pair of sunglasses in case the wind picks up and starts blowing some dust around!
“First thing I did this morning when I got up, I opened my curtains just to see what view I have, because when I got there it was dark and you really couldn't see what was outside. I got to watch the sun come up over the horizon there, so that was pretty - kind of like being at the beach.”
Weekley sprang to global prominence with his exuberant nature at the Ryder Cup last year and the 35 year-old is well aware of his appeal. “I reach out to common people,” he smiled. “I’m more common than anyone. It’s who I am. I remember when I was a hydroblaster – I worked for two and a half years earning around $8-9 an hour. Those times taught me how to respect what I have now.”
While Weekley – who openly admitted to bursting into tears after that Ryder Cup win – is a newcomer to the tournament, world No 2 Sergio Garcia returns to Doha as the highest ranked player in the field.
“I think it shows the strength in depth of the Tour and our players,” said the Spanish star when told of the world ranking status of the tournament. “This is a good, solid event to test us early in the season. It’s tougher to win here than in Abu Dhabi – the course is in better shape than any I’ve seen this year and has grown up over the years. It’s an event where you have to be patient and is usually windier than the others.”
Play is scheduled to get underway at Doha Golf Club at 6.45am (local time), while Weekley will start his Qatar campaign at 11.55am in the company of Englishmen Paul Casey and Justin Rose. Garcia tees it up at 7.25am with former champion Henrik Stenson and Australia’s Aaron Baddeley.

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