EUROPEAN TOUR specialist (@Vince_RFC) shares his expert opinion on this week's Qatar Masters.
Qatar Masters | 22nd-25th February 2018 | Sky Sports
It was a close run thing last week as for most of the week it looked like Matt Southgate would deliver some returns at a huge price but in the end it wasn’t to be. A hard one to take but positives to take into the Qatar Masters this week.
Unlike Oman last week there’s plenty of historic information to digest as this is the 21st renewal of this tournament at Doha GC. Looking back over recent years there are a few key stats that jump out, namely Greens in Regulation and Driving Distance.
Course form has been a fairly important factor also, last year's winner Jeunghun Wang won on his first appearance but that goes very much against the norm. The prior seven winners all had at least one top-10 finish previously.
The field is much weaker than normal this week though as the tournament has been shunted back in the calendar so whether that holds up this week is unknown.
Wind is almost guaranteed to be a factor again this week, so like in Oman it’s worth looking at those you like links/coastal courses.
Speaking of courses, there are a couple that possibly correlate quite nicely with Doha GC. Dom Pedro Victoria host of the Portugal Masters has strong links and I think The Dutch, host of the KLM the last two years may do too but time will tell on that one.
Jordan Smith (45/1 Bet365)
I backed Jordan Smith last week and although he faded after a strong start I feel justified in the pick. He shot 68 on Thursday before going round in level par 72 in each of the following three rounds to finish tied-26th.
Looking at the stats he played pretty well though ranking sixth in GIR but his putting let him down.
Doubling up on a player two weeks in a row can go either way but I’m going to here. At 45/1 his price has shrunken considerably but this field isn’t all that strong and he’s got some course form having been tied-sixth last year on debut.
If he can take his game from last week and slightly improve on the putting he’s got a good chance of being in contention.
Haydn Porteous (66/1 Bet365)
Alongside Smith in tied-26th in Oman was Haydn Porteous who is 66/1 to pick up his third European Tour title. After winning the Czech Masters in September the South African went off the boil slightly but has still managed some results since, particularly in the Middle East.
Other than last week in Oman he was tied-21st at the World Tour Championship in Dubai in November and tied-19th in Dubai four weeks ago so he has a liking for the area at least.
He hasn’t got the best of records at Qatar though with a MC-57 the last two years but it’s a course that should suit him. He’s one of the biggest hitters on tour which has proven beneficial here in the past.
He’s inconsistent with his GIR but when he finds them on a regular basis he tends to do well, hopefully this will be one of those weeks.
Eddie Pepperell (75/1 Bet365)
Eddie Pepperell ticks many boxes this week and the Oxford natives odds of 75/1 could look very generous come the weekend.
Eddie didn’t have the greatest of week's in Oman mainly because he couldn’t find the greens but still put together four solid rounds which gives me hope. He’s picked up a tied-third at the KLM Open last September which hopefully correlates nicely this week. He followed that up with another tied-third a few weeks later at the Portugal Masters.
If we go back to 2015, we find he picked up a fourth place in this very tournament which bodes well. In fact, if you look back at his career record his best performances have come on links/wind sweep courses, his maiden win will come at on one of those and this could be as good an opportunity as ever.
Lucas Bjerregaard (125/1 Coral)
Finally, a bigger price in the shape of the Dane Lucas Bjerregaard at 125/1.
He won the Portugal Masters last year which was his third top-12 there in a row so instantly jumps out as someone to look at.
His price is explained in his recent form (or lack of it) but in addition to the win in Portugal he was tied-11th here in Qatar last year so ticks the course form box.
He’s one of the biggest hitters on tour too so there’s another tick. At the price, I think it’d be silly not to have a little wager on him.
Qatar Masters – Jordan Smith (45/1 each-way Bet365)
Qatar Masters – Haydn Porteous (66/1 each-way Bet365)
Qatar Masters – Eddie Pepperell (70/1 each-way Bet365)
Qatar Masters – Lucas Bjerregaard (125/1 each-way Coral)
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