New world order on show in Qatar

Absence of fading star Tiger Woods barely a factor as top two Westwood and Kaymer tee off at Qatar Masters this week.

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    Kaymer is a big draw on the European Tour having risen to number two in the world [GALLO/GETTY]

    Once upon a time, European golfers dreamed of being invited to play on the US PGA Tour. Now, it's almost the other way around.

    In living memory – ok I'm only 31 – there's hardly been a stronger looking European Tour.

    Six of the top 10 in the world come from Europe, including world number one Lee Westwood and newly crowned world number two Martin Kaymer of Germany.

    And that's set to benefit the tour greatly.

    In the past, fans would bemoan the lack of Tiger Woods at their local tournament, and ask organisers if he'd been approached to play (most times he had, and said no). Now it's all about Westwood and Kaymer.

    And both will play at the Qatar Masters, which begins on Thursday here in Doha.

    There's a real buzz to see both of them in the Middle East.

    A few years ago, Kaymer especially wouldn't have got the recognition he deserved. He has won eight European Tour titles, but it's the victory at last year's PGA Championship that has made him a household name.

    Challenge

    Now the German could possibly face his biggest challenge…because he's playing with a certain Al Jazeera English sports presenter in Wednesday's Pro-Am.

    Ok, I have been practising both my golf and my German (his English is better than mine), but he'll still need plenty of patience and a sense of humour to get past some of the rough that Dave Cassidy, the golf course manager, and his team have set up.

    So once he's recovered from a little bit of crazy golf, Kaymer will be among other big hitters in the field, including John Daly.

    The two-time major champion will make his one and only appearance in the Middle East in the Qatari capital.

    And there will be plenty of fans who will be waiting to see what the big man with the loud trousers can do.

    He'll be joined by Steve Stricker, Ian Poulter, Sergio Garcia and 2009 and 2010 champions Alvaro Quiros and Robert Karlsson.

    World number six Paul Casey will also play after picking up the title in Bahrain on Sunday.

    With $2.5 million on the table and some of the world's most popular golfers in the field, who needs Tiger?

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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