Following ten years of remarkable growth, the 2008 Commercial bank Qatar Masters is set to launch an exciting new decade of golf in the booming Gulf state, event officials announced yesterday (Sunday) at Doha Golf Club.
Speaking from the new lavish hospitality units created for the eleventh staging of the PGA European Tour event, Andrew Stevens, Group CEO of title sponsors Commercialbank, said that the 2008 tournament – set for 24-27 January – would build on the overwhelming success of twelve months earlier when record numbers of spectators flocked to the country’s only championship course.
“Last year, with the support of the Qatar Golf Association and the Qatar Olympic Committee, we attracted more than 20,000 spectators to the Doha Golf Club for what was undoubtedly the biggest and best tournament in its short history,” said Stevens.
“This is one of the leading sporting events staged anywhere in the region never mind just in Qatar. The challenge for us is to take the tournament to even greater heights. With the assistance of Hassan Al Nuami and the Qatar Golf Association, we believe we can look forward to a 2008 event that will continue to see the tournament grow in international stature.
With $2.5 million in prize money and a winner’s cheque of $416, 660 on offer to the winner, there has been no shortage of big name stars signing up to take on the challenge posed by the 7,374-yard course at Doha Golf Club.
In addition to defending champion Retief Goosen, former champions Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson will also return to try and become the first man to win the title twice. In addition, Ryder Cup hopefuls Sergio Garcia, Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, David Howell, Paul Casey, Miguel Angel Jimenez and the ‘legendary talisman’ Colin Montgomerie will all be looking to land their first trophy of the year and rack up the points needed to be an automatic choice in Nick Faldo’s European team.
The event also expects busy galleries for the first appearance of the most talked about youngster in world golf. He may be just 18 years old but Northern Ireland’s Rory McIroy is already being tipped as a future European No.1 and Qatari golf followers will be keen to see a teenager described as being ‘better than Garcia at that age’.
Add in young Saudi Arabian qualifier Othman Al Mulla as well as the cream of the burgeoning PGA European Tour and the 2008 Commercialbank Qatar Masters has a depth of field better than the majority of overseas Tour events.
“The visionary bid to host the Olympic Games in 2016 as well as the successful staging of the 2006 Asian Games, underlines how Qatar and its people are committed to establishing the country as a world-class sporting venue thanks to the vision of HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani and The Heir apparent HH Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani,” added Stevens. “The Commercialbank Qatar Masters is part of that ongoing master plan.”
Qatar Golf Association Hassan Al Nuami said that once again entry to the event would be free of charge to the general public. “We are the only Middle East tournament on the PGA European Tour that allows the fans to see world-class golfers for nothing,” he said. “This and the unique and informal atmosphere make the event a very popular tournament with players, spectators and officials alike.”
Qatar Masters www.qatar-masters.com