A playoff was needed to settle the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, the second leg of the European Tour’s Desert Swing, and it was Sergio Garcia who came away with the victory.
Here are 5 Things you need to know from the 17th running of the $2.5 million Qatar Masters.
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1. GARCIA WINS PLAYOFF: Sergio Garcia earned his 11th European Tour win and the $417,000 first-place check, but he needed three playoff holes against Finland’s Mikko Ilonen to secure the victory.
It was Garcia’s first European Tour win since the 2011 Andalucia Masters. It also made up for last year when he finished second to England’s Chris Wood.
“I started the day thinking if I shoot 6 or 7 under then maybe I have a chance,” said Garcia, who returned a closing 7-under 65 for a 16-under 272 total to tie Ilonen at the top of the leaderboard.
Garcia had a chance to win in regulation, but missed a 7-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole. So the pair trooped back to he 18th hole and needed three tries to decide a winner. The Spaniard finally took the tournament with a birdie to Ilonen’s par on the third playoff hole.
Garcia’s victory now makes it two wins in as many tournaments for Spain in this year’s Desert Swing, after Pablo Larrazabal’s victory in Abu Dhabi last week.
The victory is sure to move Garcia into the top 10 of the Official World Golf Ranking from his current position of 11th, too. Ilonen was looking for his fourth European Tour win.
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2. ELS’ STRUGGLES ON AND OFF COURSE: Ernie Els made his first start in 2014, but a combination of food poisoning, jet lag and putting woes ended his chances of winning in Qatar for a second time.
Els opened with a 5-under 67, but nearly missed the cut after a second-round 76. Blame food poisoning and jet lag for that score.
“It was a good cut to make in the end as I well out of sorts on the back nine, struggling with some food poisoning,” Els said. “I felt really run down also with jet lag, so my energy level was really low.”
The four-time major winner switched putters during the tournament. Els began with the long putter that won him the 2012 Open Championship. However, he took 33 putts in his second round and soon switched back to a shorter putter.
“I was horrible on the greens so I went back to the short putter and that was a big improvement, and I am hoping to stay with that putter now,” he said.
The South African finished T-37.
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3. CLARKE WILL HAVE TO WAIT TO JOIN 500 CLUB: Darren Clarke’s membership of the European Tour’s 500 club will have to wait. The Northern Irishman was set to make his 500th European start in Qatar, but had to withdraw due to a chest injury sustained on the practice ground.
Only 24 other players have competed in 500 European tournaments.
“It’s disappointing Darren’s had to withdraw as the Tour was looking forward to honoring Darren’s 500th tournament with a presentation before he teed off,” Tournament Director David Probyn said.
Clarke was set to play alongside defending champion Chris Wood and Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez, who has played in 620 European Tour events.
Clarke’s next scheduled start is the PGA Tour’s Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles. He is not scheduled to play on the European Tour until the Masters, which is part of the European Tour schedule. Not a bad venue to celebrate 500 tournaments.
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4. MAJOR WINNER STILL HAS TO TAKE OUT THE TRASH: Jason Dufner might have entered the major club last year with his PGA Championship victory at Oak Hill, but it does not excuse him from household chores.
“Life hasn’t changed too much since I won at Oak Hill except that there is a little bit more time dealing with the media and other responsibilities as far as sponsors go,” said Dufner, who made his second straight start in Qatar.
“Everything else is much the same: my wife still makes me take the trash out in the morning.”
A third-round 6-over 78 hurt Dufner’s chances of a high finish. He ended up in 72nd place.
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5. QATAR EXTENDS: The Qatar Golf Association and Commercial Bank have agreed to a three-year extension to continue hosting the Qatar Masters through 2017. Doha Golf Club will continue to host the event, which was first staged in 1998 when Scotland’s Andrew Coltart won.