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Golfers target second win in Qatar
Alvaro Quiros, Graeme McDowell and others expect to turn the greens into gold at the Qatar Masters in Doha.
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2012 20:13

Alvaro Quiros has welcomed the Doha Golf Club's decision to increase the yardage at its Peter Harradine designed course with typical nonchalance after playing a practice round for the $2.5 million Qatar Masters beginning on Thursday.

"Really, that's good news," the Spaniard said on Tuesday. 

"The longer, the better," the 2009 champion in Qatar added, smiling broadly.

Quiros and others are attending the Qatar Masters that was first established in 1998. It is one of four European Tour golf tournaments which are staged in the countries of the Persian Gulf, the others being the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the Dubai Desert Classic and the Volvo Golf Champions.

Quiros knows what he is talking about. After all, he is one of the longest hitters on the professional circuit with an average driving distance of 312.69 yards in 2011.

With the 7414-yard course at its longest in the 15-year history of the tournament - a move aimed at testing the impressive field assembled in Qatar - Quiros was already fancying his chances of winning the event for the second time.

Also eyeing the field is Northen Ireland's Graeme McDowell, the winner of the 2010 US Open.

He told Al Jazeera's Robin Adams that despite his lacklustre year in 2011, he wants to put his game on reset and use the Qatar-based tournament to showcase his refocused energies.

Rusty

After his 2009 victory, Quiros went on to finish second in 2010 and 2011 losing out to Robert Karlsson and Thomas Bjorn, but despite being admittedly rusty early in the season he was confident of putting on a decent show.

"Last week I missed the cut in Abu Dhabi because I was rusty. Normally I manage to get some good practice even during the off-season but this time I took it easy.

"However, the long course and the fact that it's never calm here with the shamal wind playing up almost every year, I feel confident. I like it when it is windy."

A win in Abu Dhabi would have made him the first golfer to complete a Gulf Slam - he won the Dubai Desert Classic and the Dubai World Championship last year to add to his 2009 Qatar triumph - but the 29-year-old World No. 21 shrugged off the setback.

"Oh, it's in the past now. I am not too bothered about that," he said.

This year's Qatar Masters boasts seven of the world's top 20 players, with the third ranked Englishman Lee Westwood looking for his first win here.

Also in the mix are Major winners John Daly, Paul Lawrie and Graeme McDowell, world number 10 Jason Day, US Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup star Hunter Mahan and South Korea's K.J. Choi.

"It's my first trip to the Middle East and I would be so excited to win the Qatar Masters - it's one of the great events in world golf," said Mahan.

"I would be so honoured to be the first American to win here and it's certainly my goal and what I am here to do. But the field is so strong and I know it will be a great competition."

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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