AS CURTAINS came down on the historic 20th edition of Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, it was time to relive the past.
The tournament, which started in 1998, is an annual event on the European Tour calendar, sitting at the heart of a three-stop stretch, flanked by events in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Broadcast to an estimated audience of 400 million and attracting nearly 25,000 spectators each year, the tournament draws the cream of players to the Doha Golf Club.
“The tournament has progressed over the years since its inaugural edition in 1998, when it helped form a two-leg Desert Swing on the European Tour with Dubai. I think this is really a great opportunity for junior golfers to get close and see the best of the world in action,” said Qatar Golf Association President Hassan Al Naimi.
In 2013, breaking from convention, the European Tour decided to start the tournament on a Wednesday and finish it on Saturday, to coincide with the holidays in the Middle East.
After a four-year trial, the event reverted to its traditional Thursday start and Sunday finish this year. Tournament Manager Gary McGlinchey justified the rationale behind it.
“The sport finishes all over the world on Sunday. Bearing in the mind the Middle East weekend, we moved it on an experimental basis. But television viewing figures were far less.
And then, there was the other issue of guys playing on the West Coast of America. They play till Sunday there and if they want to come to Qatar, with the time difference and the length of the journey, they reach here only when the Pro-Am is on and can’t have a practice round,” said McGlinchey.
The only disappointment was the performance of Qatari players as both of them — Saleh Al Kaabi and Abdulrahman Al Shahrani failed to make the cut.
Saleh scored two consecutive four-over-par 76s while debutant Abdulrahman disappointed with scores of 84 and 86.
Despite that, Saleh believes he is coming closer each year to his quest of becoming the first Qatari to make the cut.
“I believe I can make the cut. I’m going to keep knocking on the door,” said Saleh.
Qatar’s junior coach Hassan Ben Rokia jumped to his wards’ defence.
“There isn’t not much difference in the way they play when compared with pros. Their time will come,” Hassan said.