“Beware of the wind!” is David Howell’s sound advice on how to play the challenging Peter Harradine-designed Doha Golf Club when the 22nd staging of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters gets underway on March 7.
Howell has come close to being an ever-present competitor in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. Since playing in the inaugural event in 1998, the current European Tour Tournament Committee Chairman has missed only the 2005 and 2007 editions.
In that time, the likeable Englishman, who is also a regular television golf pundit and broadcaster, has had five top-10 finishes and came in fourth in 2003, just three shots off the winner, South Africa’s Darren Fichardt.
“I’m a great fan of Doha Golf Club and the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters,” says Howell, who has played more than 600 tournaments in his illustrious European Tour career. “After the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the Qatar Masters is the oldest and most well-established tournament in the Middle East and it’s a course the players love to play.
“It’s a driver’s layout,” says Howell, “but you have to make sure you respect the wind because it’s always there. It’s a really tough test, although there are birdie and eagle chances to be had. The 639-yard par-5 ninth is the longest on the course, yet the par-4 16th is an eagle opportunity and if you can produce a big hit on the 589-yard par-5, 18th it can provide the perfect place for a spectacular finish.”
Howell, who was on the winning team in both his appearances in The Ryder Cup, in 2004 at Oakland Hills, Michigan, USA, and in 2006 at the K Club in Kildare, Ireland, by the same emphatic score of 18.5 to 9.5, says: “It’s a great field as always with plenty of former Ryder Cup players and past winners – it’s an interesting combination of young, rising stars competing with experienced campaigners which should add up to an exciting four days.”
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