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Louis Oosthuizen backing South Africans

January 27, 2016

Louis Oosthuizen believes there's a good chance of a fifth South African winner of the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, to follow in the footsteps of defending champion Branden Grace, Retief Goosen (2007), Ernie Els (2005) and Darren Fichardt (2003).

Oosthuizen, 33, is expected to be among the top contenders at Doha Golf Club as the seven-time European Tour winner looks to win his opening event of the calendar year for a fifth time, having achieved the feat four times in a row from 2011 through 2014.

“I'm ready to start the season. I like the golf course and I like playing in windy conditions. The ‘desert swing' was a stretch that I always started my season with when I was fully playing on The European Tour, so I always love coming back here,” said Oosthuizen, who was runner-up in 2009.

“Last week I had a good practice back at Florida, so I'm feeling good. I've got a lot of new clubs in the bag which I tested last week, so it's my first week out with them. I'm looking forward to getting started.”

Best known for winning the 2010 Open Championship, Oosthuizen came close to securing a second Major last year when he finished runner-up in both the US Open and The Open.

In October, he formed a winning partnership with Grace in October's Presidents Cup in Korea, where the South African pair won all four of their matches together, although the Internationals narrowly lost to the USA.

Oosthuizen believes the 27-year-old Grace could make history this week as the first person to retain his title at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, and also flagged up young compatriots Haydn Porteous and Brandon Stone, who each won their first European Tour title earlier this month.

“Branden [Grace] loves playing in windy conditions. He grew up with it. We grew up close to each other back in SA and he obviously likes this golf course, so I'll never write him off,” Oosthuizen said.

“He's really become a player that's up there every week. He's a great putter, so if his ball striking is on and he can find greens, he's always in contention. I won't be surprised to see him right up on the leaderboard from the start.

“We also have two young South African winners on the European Tour this season, Haydn [Porteous] and Brandon [Stone], which is great to see.”

On Wednesday and Thursday, Oosthuizen will play in one of the tournament's star-studded groups with four-time Major winner Els, his long-term friend and mentor, and Thai legend Thongchai Jaidee.

Sergio Garcia, the 2014 champion, and Grace are the two highest-ranked players in the field and will play their first two rounds together with rising English star Matt Fitzpatrick.

An 11-time European Tour winner, Garcia is also a seven-time Ryder Cup representative and believes Fitzpatrick, just 21, could be among “three to five” debutants in Europe's Ryder Cup team this year.

“Matt obviously has a good chance of making the team. He's been playing very well and he's got a lot of potential. I played with him in Thailand at the end of last year. He looks like the kind of player that could definitely make the team. The odds are definitely looking good,” Garcia said.

“I would probably expect to see at least four or five new faces. That's the way it looks at the moment. You never know as the year goes by, but at the moment it looks like there's probably between three and five young guys that could be on that team in September.”

Like Oosthuizen, Garcia is starting his year in Doha, where he's again one of the pre-tournament favourites. However, the 36-year-old Spaniard was most concerned about the wind, which was already strong on Tuesday.

“It's always a good week to start my year and I'm looking forward to it. I've obviously always enjoyed coming back here to the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. The course is good. Obviously it's getting windy. It's supposed to get even windier, so it's not going to be easy, but the course looks in very, very good shape,” said Garcia, a long-time crowd favourite in Doha.

“I feel quite comfortable on the golf course. It kind of caught my eye the first time I played it, so I obviously like what I see out there. When you can play on one of those courses that you feel comfortable on, usually you seem to do fairly well.”

Tickets for this year's Commercial Bank Qatar Masters are available to buy at a range of outlets including Virgin Megastores (Online and in-store in Doha), Ticket Master, Time Out Tickets, Q Tickets, Doha Golf Club and more (full list below). Tickets are priced as follows, starting at QAR150:

Tournament day

Ticket type

Ticket price

Wednesday 27 January

General admission ticket

QAR 150

Thursday 28 January

General admission ticket

QAR 150

Friday 29 January

General admission ticket including public access to Arrested Development and Soul II Soul Concert

QAR 250

VIP Arrested Development and Soul II Soul Concert ticket - general admission to the golf course, access to a designated exclusive tented area at the live music concert, canapés and one free drink

QAR500

Saturday 30 January

General admission ticket

QAR200

Season Pass Wednesday to Saturday

Includes general admission on all four days and Arrested Development and Soul II Soul Concert on Friday 29 January

QAR 450

 

Entry is free for children under 14 years of age and each ticket purchased entitles the holder to one free round trip journey to and from the Doha Golf Club by event partner UBER.

For those looking for an extra-special experience with Michelin-starred chef Theo Randall, hospitality packages are available through the tournament's official website www.qatar-masters.com/hospitality .  

Official Website: http://www.qatar-masters.com

Hospitality: http://www.qatar-masters.com/hospitality.php

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CommercialBankQatarMasters

Twitter: @CBQatarMasters

Hashtag: #MyCBQatarMasters





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