Qatar Masters Set for Late January

The richest event in the Middle East on the 2008 European Tour, the Commercialbank Qatar Masters will be held at Doha Golf Club for the 12th time January 22-25, 2009.

Won in 2008 by Australian Adam Scott after his final-round course-record 61, the tournament is part of the trio of events that comprise the "Desert Swing."

Last year's tournament attracted more than 16,000 spectators to Doha Golf Club. Attendees received complimentary entry at the only European Tour event to be free of charge to the public in the Middle East. Last year's event also received a visit from His Highness the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamed bin Khalifa Al Thani, and his wife Her Highness Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser Al Missned.

"Doha's population may not be as great as the other regional venues on the tour, but the spectators appreciate the undoubted quality of the field as well as the unique challenge offered by Doha Golf Club," said Qatar Golf Association (QGA) president Hassan Al Nuami.

"While entries are still open for the 2009 event [and] we are unable to finalize the entry list, spectators and sponsors can rest assured that we are already attracting a world-class field with one or two surprise names in store."

After beating Sweden's Henrik Stenson by three shots, Scott became the first player in history to be a two-time winner of the tournament. He was chased by a host of players widely known in the world of golf. In addition to Stenson, contestants included Sergio Garcia, Luke Donald, Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, Scott Verplank and Lee Westwood.

"Although our prize-fund breakdown has yet to be revealed, it is fair to say we are proud of our position as the richest event to be staged in the Middle East during 2008," said Commercialbank Group CEO Andrew Stevens.

"With the support of the Qatar Golf Association and the Qatar Olympic Committee, we have seen the tournament grow to become one of the leading tournaments on the tour's international calendar. A wonderful venue, world-class infrastructure and an all-star cast of players have helped propel the event to a height few could have imagined just a few years ago."

"Over the coming weeks we will announce a number of international golfers who will be making their first appearances in Doha, while welcoming back some familiar names from Tour and Ryder Cup successes," Stevens added.

Doha general manager Chris Myers believes the event is the most challenging of the three Middle East tournaments in the "Desert Swing."

"I think all the players agree that Doha provides a real test of golf with a biting desert wind capable of ruining even the best golfer's scorecard," Myers said.

"In addition, the course was designed by Peter Harradine and is renowned for lush green fairways, challenging greens and water hazards, which dominate an area that used to be a desert wasteland but is now a world-class tour venue."

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