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PREVIEW: 2024 DP World Tour – Qatar Masters

Could we see another South African win the DP World Tour last week after Dylan Frittelli’s heroics in Bahrain last time out? Damien Kayat previews the Qatar Masters.

Zander Lombard - DP World Tour

Could we see another South African win the DP World Tour last week after Dylan Frittelli’s heroics in Bahrain last time out? Damien Kayat previews the Qatar Masters.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

2024 DP World Tour
Commercial Bank Qatar Masters
Doha Golf Club, Doha, Qatar
8-11 February

Dylan Frittelli held his nerve in Bahrain to record his first DP World Tour title in six years. It could be a harbinger of things to come as the tour moves to the final stop on this year’s prolonged Middle East swing: the Qatar Masters.

I say this because South African golfers have absolutely thrived in this event (Frittelli will be aiming to become the sixth player from the Rainbow Nation to win this title).

The Qatar Masters

The Qatar Masters has undergone some significant changes over the past few years. Founded in 1998, the Qatar Masters was originally one of two events staged in the Arabian Peninsula. The event started to gain real traction before tensions in the Arab world led to it being moved to a later slot in the schedule.

This saw a decrease in prize money and certainly prestige. The DP World Tour attempted to address that issue by making it the final full-field event of last year’s roster. It returns to an early season timeslot but it still lacks the razzmatazz of the 2010’s.

Doha Golf Club

Designed by Peter Harradine, Doha Golf Club is the traditional- and beloved- host course of the Qatar Masters. It just never felt right when organizers moved the event to the charmingly named Education City in 2020 and 2021.

This is an archetypal exposed desert layout, measuring in at just a smidge under 7,500 yards. The fairways are fairly narrow by desert standards (though that is mitigated by minimal rough). The chief protection for this course is wind.

It appears as there will be some gusts this week (though nothing too extreme). I think it’s always advisable to back players with solid Middle East form in these events. Also, links specialists tend to thrive on these exposed layouts and this year should be no different.

The fairly new Paspalum putting surfaces are rather slick and require some real finesse. That’s why I would steer clear of players renowned for putting woes.

The Contenders

There is actually a fairly strong South African contingent waiting to claim the title this week. Thriston Lawrence finished runner-up (alongside Rory) at the inaugural Dubai Invitational. He has that winning touch and could very well pose a threat this week.

Zander Lombard has been exceptional throughout the desert swing, finishing T6 at the Dubai Invitational and T2 last week. Dane Rasmus Hojgaard has picked up back-to-back top-ten finishes and he makes a logical favourite this week.

Elsewhere, the likes of Yannik Paul and Keita Nakajima have flirted with contention in recent weeks. I’m not going to lie, this is hardly blockbuster stuff and the DP World Tour is going to need to do something before their tour fades into obsolescence.

Past Winners

2023: Sami Valimaki
2022: Ewen Ferguson (-7)
2021: Antoine Rozner (-8) *Education City
2020: Jorge Campillo (-13) *playoff- Education City
2019: Justin Harding (-13)

To Win Match:

Rasmus Hojgaard 9/1 | Zander Lombard 18/1 | Yannik Paul 22/1 | Thriston Lawrence 22/1 | Tom McKibben 22/1

Value Bets

Frederick Lacroix- To Win 30/1 | To Place 11/2

This could be the week for emerging Frenchman Frederick Lacroix to claim a maiden DP World Tour title. Look at his form figures in his last nine events on the Challenge Tour and DP World Tour: 15-8-6-13-3-17-5-3-4. He hits the ball long and straight (making him the ideal candidate for Doha Golf Club). He finished third at the Ras al Khaimah Championship before a fourth place finish in Bahrain last week. Everything is trending in the right direction for him.

Pablo Larrazabal- To Win 40/1 | To Place 8/1

I’m once again going to back Larrazabal at a mid-level price. Sure, he did finish down the field in Bahrain. But he enjoyed a disastrous start last week and I’m always willing to disregard form when it comes to the 40-year-old Spaniard. A nine-time winner on tour, Larrazabal has proven to be a real desert specialist over the years. He held off Mickelson and McIlroy to win the 2014 Abu Dhabi Championship. He also recently finished fourth at the Rolex Series event Dubai. He has made the cut in each of his last seven visits here, finishing 4th in 2018 and 5th in 2019. This is a weak field and I think he could be a true dark horse this week.

The Man to Beat- Rasmus Hojgaard- To Win 11/1 | To Place 5/2

Yes, I’m backing the favourite this week. But this is one of those weeks where you can still eke out a little value in doing so. And he has been exceptional in his last five Middle East events, picking up results of T11-T11-T11-2-T8. He has the power to put himself in great positions off the tee and the precision to hit fine approach shots in these tricky Paspalum greens. I don’t think it’s too long until Rasmus joins twin brother Nicolai in the upper echelons of European golf.

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