Out of the Rough: Commercial Bank Qatar Masters (2023)
After a two week stint in Spain, the DP World Tour heads to the Middle East for the final regular event of the season.
This will be the 26th edition of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters as it was first played in 1998.
This event returned to the Doha Golf Club, its original host, after a brief two year stint at Education City. It will once again be played at the Doha Golf Club this year.
Last year we saw this event played in March as it has now made the move to the final stop of the regular season this year.
There will be plenty to play for outside of an outright title as the top 116 in the Race to Dubai will be safe for another year in receiving full exemption for the 2024 DP World Tour Season.
Additionally, at the end of this tournament, the top 64 within the rankings will move on to the Nedbank Challenge before the top 50 head to Dubai for the World Tour Championship.
As previously mentioned, this is the final week for many of the DP World Tour’s best to secure a spot for the end of the season Nedbank Challenge and ultimately, the World Tour Championship.
The likes of Matthew Baldwin, Todd Clements, Daniel Gavins and Nacho Elvira are on the outside looking in for the top 64 for the upcoming Nedbank challenge.
The likes of Marc Warren, Alex Levy, Oliver Bekker and Wilco Nienaber are on the wrong side of the top 116 and will need a big week this week if they hope to receive full exemption for next year.
Ewen Ferguson comes into this week as the defending champion. As previously mentioned, he won this event in March of last week so he has had to wait nearly 19 months to defend his title.
Other notable names in this week’s field include Jordan Smith, Alexander Bjork, Rasmus Hojgaard, Aaron Rai, Thorbjorn Olesen, Yannik Paul, Matt Wallace, Romain Langasque and Robert MacIntyre.
Doha Golf Club in Doha, Qatar is this week’s host and plays as a Par 72 at 7,466 yards.
It was designed by Peter Harradine, the man also responsible for the Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
This course underwent some significant changes between the 2019 and 2022 editions as the course was revamped.
The greens of the par five ninth and 18th holes were combined to form one big green. Additionally, all of the greens were changed from Bermuda to a strain of paspalum called Dynasty Grass.
Additionally, the majority of the greens were expanded back to their original sizes and reverted back to their original slopes and elevations.
The intention of these revamped greens were for them to run at around 11.5 on the Stimpmeter, which is slightly faster than the previous installments.
The fairways this week run average in terms of width and the rough is essentially non-penal.
There is water in play on six holes (three, eight, nine, 13, 15 and 18.) Both the front and back nine end on a par five as well.
The four par fives featured this week must be attacked as they annually average below par. The driveable par four 16th plays as the easiest hole on the course as well.
Doha Golf Club is a very exposed course that is more susceptible to high winds that will play its part in the outcome this week.
Such happenings took place last year with weekend weather conditions being far from ideal as Ferguson shot a final round of 70 to secure a one-stroke victory.
As of the time of writing this, the weather looks ideal for this week’s event. Temperatures will range from 91-to-92 degrees across all four days. There is a 20-percent chance of precipitation on Thursday, a ten-percent chance on Friday and a zero-percent chance for both days of the weekend. Winds will peak at 13 miles-per-hour on Friday while being projected at 11 miles-per-hour on Thursday, ten miles-per-hour on Saturday and nine miles-per-hour on Sunday.
Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)
Strokes Gained: Putting (SG: PUTT)
Strokes Gained: Around the Green (SG: ATG)
Average Driving Distance
Birdie or Better Percentage
Greens in Regulation Percentage (GIR%)
Par Five Average Scoring
Alexander Bjork (+2000)
It’s just another week with Alexander Bjork on my card. Same ol’, same ol’. The man is just a statistical darling and continues to pop in my models each and every week. On the DP World Tour he is currently tops in all of SG: APP, scrambling, birdie or better percentage and bogey avoidance. That alone should have you excited each and every week. He is also fourth in SG: PUTT, ninth in GIR%, 17th in SG: ATG and 41st in par five average scoring. Now, he is 158th in average driving distance which is darn near the bottom of the entire Tour. Average driving distance is obviously important here with the distance, but the past few winners have proven that this course can be attacked and ultimately conquered without being super long off the tee. He has missed back-to-back cuts coming into this week but he does have to catch some form heading into next week’s Nedbank Challenge. He placed T18th a few weeks back at the BMW PGA Championship and was runner-up at the Omega European Masters back in early September. He had a run of events between early June and early July where he placed T6th at the Porsche European Open, T9th at the Volvo Car Scandinavian Mixed, T8th at the Betfred British Masters and T4th at the Made in Himmerland. As always, I’m playing two units on Bjork this week.
Romain Langasque (+3500)
Like Bjork, Langasque missed the cut last week but will be seeking form heading into the DP World Tour’s end-of-the-season championship. He did place T9th two weeks back at the Open de Espana however and went T14th at the BMW PGA Championship roughly a month ago. He doesn’t have a victory on the season but his season has been highlighted by a second place finish at the DS Automobiles Italian Open back in May. A victory here would definitely spark an end-of-the-season run for him. He is currently ninth on the DP World Tour in par five average scoring, 12th in birdie or better percentage, 13th in scrambling, 15th in average driving distance, 21st in bogey avoidance, 23rd in SG: ATG, 44th in SG: PUTT, 49th in GIR% and 52nd in SG: APP. In other words, he’s well above average in each of the nine statistical categories I took into consideration this week. He also played this event a year ago where he placed T21st. I’m playing a unit on him this week.
Matt Wallace (+3500)
With the same odds as Langasque, I was torn between who to go with, so I went with both Langasque and Wallace. Wallace is currently third on the DP World Tour in GIR%, eighth in SG: ATG, 15th in SG: APP, 16th in bogey avoidance, 32nd in both average driving distance and birdie or better percentage, 34th in scrambling and 37th in par five average scoring. If there is a knock to Wallace’s game, it comes on the greens as he ranks 103rd in SG: PUTT. Although below average, it’s not by much compared to the field we’re seeing this week. He’ll have to catch a hot flat stick as history has proven that strong putters often find themselves at the top of the leaderboard at the Qatar Masters. We last saw Wallace on the DP World Tour at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship where he placed T6th. He was also the runner-up at the D+D Real Czech Masters back in late August. He most recently played on the PGA TOUR at the ZOZO Championship and also played the Shriners Hospital Children’s Open where he placed T28th. I’m playing a unit on Wallace this week.
Alex Fitzpatrick (+5000)
The younger brother of PGA TOUR star and former U.S. Open Champion Matt Fitzpatrick, Alex has been making quite the name for himself on the DP World Tour. For most fans, we were introduced to Alex as the brothers teamed up for this year’s Zurich Classic but a follower of the Challenge Tour would have already known his name. Alex has posted back-to-back finishes of T26th at the Andalucía Masters and T20th at the Open de Espana. He was the runner-up at the ISPS HANDA World Invitational back in August and placed T5th at the Omega European Masters in early September. He won on the Challenge Tour at the British Challenge presented by Modest! Golf Management back in August as well. He is currently seventh on the DP World Tour in SG: APP, tenth in bogey avoidance, 11th in birdie or better percentage, 12th in scrambling, 43rd in GIR%, 65th in SG: PUTT, 67th in par five average scoring, 77th in SG: ATG and 125th in average driving distance. If Alex wants a chance to play at next week’s Nedbank Challenge, he is almost certainly going to need a victory to crack the top 64. I’m playing a unit on him.
Richie Ramsay (+7000)
We saw fellow Scotsman Ewen Ferguson claim victory here a year ago so why not bet on another Scotland native to go back-to-back? Ramsay is currently eighth on the DP World Tour in bogey avoidance, 17th in GIR%, 27th in birdie or better percentage, 28th in scrambling, 41st in SG: ATG, 45th in SG: PUTT, 60th in SG: APP and 70th in par five average scoring. His downfall this week is that he ranks 146th in average driving distance. As I stated when talking about Bjork, it’s nice to have distance off the tee this week but it is not the end-all by any means. Ramsay is fresh off a T19th at the Andalucía Masters a week ago and has made the cut in 14 of his last 15 events. He’s sitting at 54th in the current standings so ideally he’s safe but could better his position with a strong performance this week. I’m playing a unit on Ramsay this week.