Thursday, February 3, 2011
Course: Doha Country Club (7,388 yards, par 72), Doha, Qatar.
Purse: $2.5 million. Winner's share: $416,590.
Last year: Sweden's Robert Karlsson closed with a 65 for a three-stroke victory.
Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer provide the main story line in Doha this week as they go head-to-head in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. John Daly might just provide a little comic relief.
Kaymer can overtake Westwood as world No. 1 if the German wins the $419,000 first-place prize. Daly, meanwhile, was handed a sponsor’s invite. The two-time major champion gave up thoughts of world No. 1 a long time ago. He is 620th in the world and just trying to get his career on track.
FIVE TO WATCH
John Daly – Started well at Torrey Pines last week before falling away during the weekend. Will there be a train wreck in Qatar, too?
Steve Stricker – The tough Doha Golf Club should suit him.
Lee Westwood – Big week needed from Englishman with his world No. 1 status under threat.
Martin Kaymer – Let’s see how badly he wants to dethrone Westwood from the top of the world order.
Stephen Gallacher – The Scot finished 4th in Bahrain last week and renowned coach Bob Torrance has predicted a win for him soon. Will it come this week?
Westwood has held the top spot since November, taking over the world pecking order after Tiger Woods’ dominance ended. The Englishman has been under serious threat from Kaymer ever since the 26-year-old won the HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship two weeks ago.
Kaymer doesn’t even have to win this week to overtake Westwood. A second-place finish is good enough to dethrone Westwood, providing the Englishman doesn’t finish in the top 22.
If early 2011 performance is any indication, then Kaymer seems the safer bet to win. He finished 26 shots ahead of Westwood in Abu Dhabi. British bookmakers certainly feel the German is better prepared. They have him listed as 9/1 to take the title, with Westwood second at 12/1.
Not that Kaymer is hell bent on getting to the top of the world order at this precise moment.
“My goal is not to become No. 1 in the world right now,” Kaymer said. “For me it’s just important to play tournaments, to play as good as I can in those tournaments, winning those tournaments, and then you know, if I take care of that, then yes, I will become No. 1, one day. But at the moment, I'm not focusing on my world rankings. I know I'm in the top 10, and that's important to me.”
Daly’s goal is to get back to the PGA Tour, but he’s finding it difficult. He has no status on the PGA or European Tour. He was turned down for a sponsor’s invite to the Waste Management Phoenix Openthis week, his second snub of the year following the Bob Hope Classic.
Daly did not try for his card at PGA Tour Q-School last year, and has no plans to do so this year, either.
“I feel I don't really need to go that route yet because of the European Tour,” Daly said. “I want to play a little bit in Europe. I owe that to them for what they've done for me in the past.”
Daly isn’t the only big-name American in the field. World no. 7 Steve Stricker will also make an appearance, courtesy of his top 50 ranking.
was also handed a sponsor’s invite to make his first appearance in the Middle East.
So it’s the Westwood versus Kaymer show this week. Sponsors and fans will be hoping those two will be battling it out down the stretch – with Daly and Stricker in the mix, too.