2021 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters (24th edition)

Qatar Living

Qatar Living

The European Tour makes a return to the Education City Golf Club for the second successive time with the 24th edition of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, which tee-off at the 6,681-metre, par-71 course.

The four-day tournament, which ends on Sunday, March 14, is being held under strict health and safety protocols as outlined by Qatar's Ministry of Public Health due to the Covid-19 pandemic with the players and all the officials and tournament staff operating from the 'bio bubble' before and during the event.

The strong field is headlined by defending champion Jorge Campillo, who defeated David Drysdale in an enthralling play-off at the same course last year.

Others on the cards at the $1.5 million total-prize money event are world No.73 Thomas Pieters, Britain's Andy Sullivan - the winner of four European Tour titles, and two-time European Tour winner Aaron Rai, Wilco Nienaber, Shaun Norris and Brandon Stone. In all, a total of 144 players, including five former champions - Spaniard Alvaro Quiros (2009), Englishmen Eddie Pepperell (2018) and Chris Wood (2013), South African Justin Harding (2019) are competing at the tournament.

The home-challenge is led by reigning Qatar Open champion Ali Al Shahrani, who became only the second Qatari to win the amateur tournament in its 35-year-old history, Saleh Al Kaabi and Juhaim al-Kuwari.

The tournament is being played in its initially intended slot, kicking off the European Tour schedule's resumption in the fourth part of the Desert Swing.

Among the players to look out for is the Pieters. The Belgian arrives Qatar off the back of his share of 15th on the PGA Tour at the Puerto Rico Open. He also tied for 10th at the Saudi International at the beginning of February.

Pieters, who turned professional in 2013, is one of the highest-ranked players in this field and will like his chances of improving his share of 21st from last year.

The 29-year-old, who together with Thomas Detry claimed the World Cup of Golf at Metropolitan in 2018, hasn't won on the European Tour since August 2019. He will be eager as ever to capture his fifth Tour title this week.

In the spotlight, Pepperell won the tournament in 2018 at the Doha Golf Club to claim his second European Tour title and was also fourth in 2015.

The Englishman was disqualified here last year after making an unfortunate scorecard error when he signed for par at the 16th hole and birdie at the 17th, making those scores the other way round.

"The rules are the rules, and I 100% accept that, but I can't help feeling that this particular way of disqualification is a fair distance away from common sense, and that's also disappointing. I enjoyed the course, however, and hopefully next time, I'll do a better job," the 30-year-old Pepperell wrote on Twitter.

Addressing a press conference ahead of the tournament, European Tour Tournament Director Mikael Ericsson said, "It's really different from the normal times, and we are thankful to Qatar Golf Association (QGA) for what they have done to be able to play here this year. Thanks also to Commercial Bank and Education City Golf Club. We are very proud to be here and be a part of the Qatar Masters,"

"It is indeed difficult for the players, and everybody has to take a couple of steps and ensure that they stay within the 'bubble'. But with the support of everybody in this country, it has been easy in a way, and we thank everybody," he said.

While reiterating his bank's continuing support for the annual signature event, Commercial Bank's EGM, Chief Marketing Officer Hussein al-Abdulla, said, "We have been the title sponsors of the tournament for many years. We have been hosting this for many years now. The direction of the leadership of the QGA has been tremendous. We try our best to support and complement the QGA in its pursuit to educate and promote golf to our locals and especially our Qatari golfers. The other side is the Qatar Masters has become a major event as last year we had over 400mn people watched over TV from around the world. Top-notch players are coming to Qatar to play in this prestigious event.

We look forward to supporting this fantastic tournament as it also serves the Qatar 2030 vision."

QGA President Hassan Al Naimi and General Secretary Fahad Al Naimi were also present at the press conference.

Hassan Al Naimi noted that strict preventive measures to combat coronavirus spread are taken to protect the golfers and all stakeholders.

"We are ready to stage another successful edition of the tournament with the participation of top golfers," Naimi said.

"With 500 to 600 persons coming to the country, we have taken precautionary measures to ensure the safety and health of all participants. The COVID-19 protocols are in place with golfers to remain in a bio-secure bubble throughout the event. MoPH has approved 20%, and so about 2000 spectators would be able to attend," the QGA president added.

ECGC General Manager Michael Braidwood said Qatar Masters has continued to play a major role in attracting more people to golf in the country.

"I'm really glad about the development and growth of the sport here in Qatar. Last year, we had many acquisitions during the event for schoolchildren, initiatives to draw youngsters to the golf course. We've seen families coming to the golf course at the club. A lot of kids are coming. When we opened ECGC, we were keen to draw more people to golf and had the right partner, and now with the support of Commercial Bank, that has happened," Braidwood said.

Tickets are available online, via this link, or via Commercial Bank.


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