Qatar Masters 2016
Round 4 - Branden Grace defends title
January 31, 2016
South African Branden Grace retained his Qatar Masters title in Doha on Saturday winning by two shots and making tournament history in the process.
The world number 11 shot a last round 69 in the European Tour tournament to go with previous rounds of 70, 67 and 68 to finish on 14 under.
In doing so he became the first player to win back-to-back Qatar Masters' titles, despite describing his chances of winning again in Doha as "slim" at the beginning of the week.
As well last the trophy he also received a winner's cheque for $416,660.00 (381, 458.96 euros).
It was his seventh European Tour victory, his first since last year in Qatar, the first time he has defended a title and he is the fifth South African to win in Doha.
Afterwards Grace said he would return to Doha next year to try and win a hat-trick of titles.
"What a great week, it's great to defend the title," he said.
"I can't wait to come back next year and give it a run for the third time."
He added: "I am pretty much lost for words."
Grace took last year's title with a score of 19 under.
But windy and cold conditions -- Grace described them as "brutal" -- this year prevented such low scores.
He started the day two shots back from overnight leader Paul Lawrie but clawed back that advantage by the eighth and a disastrous seven at the par five ninth from the Scotsman left Grace as outright leader for the first time and it was a lead he would not relinquish.
He made birdies on the 10th and 18th, following a fine approach shot
"I enjoy tough conditions, I am a grinder, " he told reporters afterwards. "Patience is the big key, I really had to grind it out."
The 27-year-old said he was determined to break into the world top ten and he could be considered an outside contender for the Masters at Augusta in April.
Grace finished tied fourth at last year's US Open and placed third at the PGA Championship.
"The Masters are a big goal for any golfer," he said. "I feel my game is in good shape, I feel I can get there."
Grace finished two shots ahead of Spain's Rafa Cabrera-Bello, who shot a final round of 70, and Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen, who birdied the last for a 71.
One shot further back were a group of players on 11 under, including Bradley Dredge and Andrew Johnson.
Overnight leader Paul Lawrie had a shocking last round, shooting a six over par 78, to finish at seven under.
He made double-bogeys at the par five 9th and at the par four 14th. Lawrie also made four other bogeys as he ended up finishing tied for 13th position, despite leading for most of the week.
The 2014 champion Sergio Garcia finished on 8 under, the same score as Louis Oosthuizen, on his Doha debut.
Top amateur for the week was China's Jin Cheng who finished on three under.
Round 3 - Paul Lawrie stretches lead to two shots
January 30, 2016
Former British Open champion Paul Lawrie edged closer to a record third Qatar Open title after taming the trademark winds of the Doha course to card a third round 70 that put him two strokes clear on Friday.
Lawrie, who lifted the trophy in 1999 and 2012, moved to 13 under par, ahead of Branden Grace, who is bidding to be the first player to successfully defend the title, and Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen, who are tied in second.
The winds were the strongest they had been all week, but Lawrie stayed consistent throughout his round, with birdies at the 14th and 18th holes.
The Scot made the European Ryder Cup team in both previous years he won in Qatar and a third victory would put him in contention for another appearance in the biennial team event in 2016.
"There's a lot of good players behind me. Branden Grace is obviously defending champion, won here before and well up the world rankings," Lawrie said on the European Tour website.
"So tomorrow is going to be a different challenge but I'm looking forward to it."
Spain's Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Britain's Tommy Fleetwood are a further shot behind on 10 under par.
Round 2 - Paul Lawrie leads at halfway
January 29, 2016
Paul Lawrie benefited from a putting tip off a friend in shooting a 6-under 66 at the Qatar Masters, giving the former British Open champion a one-shot lead after the second round on Thursday.
The 47-year-old Lawrie followed up a first-round 67 to move to 11-under par, a stroke clear of Nicolas Colsaerts (68).
Lawrie missed the cut in Abu Dhabi last week and was given some putting advice from fellow Scottish player Marc Warren, who said Lawrie's stroke was too long and slow.
''I've been working on it the last couple of days and certainly feels as though I've got it,'' said Lawrie, who rolled in seven birdies on Thursday and has 13 in all this week as he bids to win the event for a third time.
Joint first-round leaders Louis Oosthuizen (73) and Pablo Larrazabal (72) dropped off the leaderboard, while Sergio Garcia was in a five-way tie for sixth place after a 66 that included a long putt for birdie on No. 8. It prompted Garcia to dance a jig of delight on the green.
''I don't know if they were dance moves. They were like jabs,'' said Garcia, the 2014 champion. ''When we got to the ninth tee, I said to my caddie and to the guys, 'I think that celebration is going to look a little bit funny on TV.'''
Matthew Fitzpatrick, Stephen Gallacher, and Matteo Manassero were among those to miss the cut.
Lawrie is making his 16th appearance in Qatar. He won the event in 1999 and 2012, before going on to represent Europe in the Ryder Cup the same year.
Lawrie went out in the morning and avoided the worst of the windy conditions. Starting on the back nine, he birdied Nos. 10 and 12 and responded to a bogey at No. 15 by picking up more shots on the 16th and 18th holes. More birdies came on the fourth, seventh and ninth holes.
''I got a little frustrated after No. 15 because I thought, 'You are not taking advantage of the conditions,''' Lawrie said.
Round 1 - Louis Oosthuizen & Pablo Larrazabal share lead
January 28, 2016
Louis Oosthuizen, who has won four of his previous five season-opening tournaments, posted a first round 65 at the Qatar Masters for a share of the lead on Wednesday.
Thriving in overcast and blustery conditions, the South African carded a bogey-free round, which included two birdies at his first two holes, after teeing off at the tenth.
The 2010 British Open champion was joined at the top of the leaderboard by Spain's Pablo Larrazabal, who posted four birdies in his first nine holes.
Belgium's Nicolas Colsaerts, England's Andrew Johnston and Sweden's Bjorn Akesson formed a trio one shot further back.
"I like playing in the desert," the 33-year-old Oosthuizen said.
"I always play well around here, and just like the golf course. Like I said, I like the type of shot-making, grainy greens. It brings back a lot of good memories."
His card included back-to-back birdies at the ninth -- the longest hole on the course, a 639-yard par 5 -- 10th and 11th holes.
Despite his self-professed love of windy conditions, Oosthuizen, one of the pre-tournament favourites, admitted that there could be "horrible winds" during the rest of the week.
At the start of 2011 and 2012, Oosthuizen won back-to-back Africa Opens. And in 2013 and 2014 he recorded consecutive wins at the Volvo Golf Champions, all season-opening tournaments.
A "very happy" Larrazabal, who has won a tournament on the European Tour in each of the last two seasons, made a similar start to Oosthuizen, birdying his first two holes also, after teeing off at the first.
He followed that up with birdies on the sixth and ninth to go out in just 32.
Like Oosthuizen, he did not card a bogey all round and missed only one green all day, at the par three 13th.
"I hit it very well tee-to-green," said the 32-year-old. "Seventeen greens in regulation with these conditions is very good.
"I put myself in a lot of birdie chances and that was key."
It looked like there would be a three-way lead at the top but Akesson bogied his penultimate hole, a four at the par three eighth.
Another who threatened the top of the leader board was Englishman Callum Shinkwin.
The 21-year-old, starting at the tenth, went out in just 30, carding six birdies in the first nine.
He could not maintain that pace though and took a double bogey at the second and another at the ninth, but remained upbeat afterwards.
"I'm pleased," he told reporters. "I played nicely. I holed a few putts, which is a change, so I was happy with that."
It was a big day for the Shinkwin family, with his boxing cousin, Miles, announcing on Wednesday he will fight for the vacant British light-heavyweight title next month.
Defending champion Branden Grace, seeking to become the first player in the Qatar Masters 17-year history to win back-to-back titles, carded a two under round of 70.
That was the same score as the 2013 champion Sergio Garcia.
The first person to win in Qatar, Scotland's Paul Lawrie, fared better with a five under par 67.