Ryder Cup rookies target 20th Commercial Bank Qatar Masters

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, GOLF

DOHA: Chris Wood and Andy Sullivan will both compete at the 20th Commercial Bank Qatar Masters from 26-29 January just four months after making their Ryder Cup debuts and two months after representing England at the ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf.

Wood, 29, won his first European Tour title at the 2013 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters and remains the only Englishman to have lifted the Mother of Pearl Trophy.

After winning further European Tour titles at the 2015 Lyoness Open in Austria and last year’s BMW PGA Championship in England, Wood finished fourth on the Ryder Cup European points list last year to secure a first appearance in the biennial team competition against Team USA.

At Hazeltine National in early October, Wood teamed up with Olympic champion Justin Rose to beat Zach Johnson and Jimmy Walker in the Saturday morning foursomes, but was unable to maintain his winning record in Sunday’s singles, losing narrowly to US Open champion Dustin Johnson.

Wood now has his sights set on trying to reclaim the Mother of Pearl Trophy in Doha, where his 2013 victory was followed by a tie for 43rd in 2014 and a missed cut last January, having had to skip the 2015 event due to injury.

“My win at the 2013 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters is still one of the highlights of my career. It was pretty emotional to finally win my first European Tour title after what felt like many years,” said Wood, who memorably tied for fifth at the 2008 Open Championship as a 20-year-old amateur before sharing third place the following year.

“I like the course at Doha Golf Club and I feel like I’m ready to challenge for the title again. It will feel good to compete there in my first full season after playing at the Ryder Cup because I would like to keep playing well enough to make the 2018 team.”

Sullivan, also 29, secured automatic selection for Europe’s Ryder Cup team on the back of three European Tour victories in 2015. At Hazeltine, he and four-time major championship winner Rory McIlroy lost to Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler as USA swept the Friday morning foursomes, while Sullivan lost to Brandt Snedeker in the singles.

Sullivan’s recent results include a runner-up finish at the Portugal Masters in October and a tie for third at November’s US$7 million Nedbank Golf Challenge in South Africa.

The Englishman’s share of ninth in his Commercial Bank Qatar Masters debut in 2013 remains his best finish in the tournament and he has shone in nearby UAE, sharing fourth and second in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic for the past two years and finishing runner-up in the 2015 season-ending DP World Tour Championship, Dubai.

“I’ve shown I can play well in the desert with some good results in Dubai and although I’ve had a couple of decent finishes at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, it would be good to really challenge for the title this time,” said Sullivan, who teamed up with Wood at November’s ISPS HANDA World Cup of Golf in Melbourne, sharing 13th place.

“I made my Commercial Bank Qatar Masters debut in 2013, the year Chris won, and we’ve since played in the Ryder Cup and World Cup together. I had a great 2015, played well again last year and it would be great to get a good result in Doha and keep the form going.”

Hassan Al Naimi, President of the Qatar Golf Association, said: “It’s always a pleasure to welcome back former champions and we’re delighted that Chris Wood will compete in the 20th Commercial Bank Qatar Masters. His win in 2013 remains one of the tournament’s most memorable finishes, so we were so proud to see how he has become one of The European Tour’s top players and deservedly made his Ryder Cup debut last year.

“Andy Sullivan is another Ryder Cup debutant and has been one of the Tour’s leading players for the past couple of years so we’re excited that he will challenge again. There’s always strong support for English players in Doha and I know many spectators will hope they can challenge for the Mother of Pearl Trophy.”

First held in 1998, the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters has helped establish Qatar as a world-class sporting venue and is considered the country’s annual ‘must-attend’ sporting and social event. Sitting at the heart of The European Tour’s Middle East swing, the tournament attracted over 25,000 spectators in 2016 and was broadcast to a global TV audience of over 400 million.

Tickets for the 20th Commercial Bank Qatar Masters are now available for purchase at Virgin Megastores (online and in-store in Doha), Doha Golf Club, St Regis Hotel Doha, Intercontinental Hotel Doha, Radisson Blu Hotel Doha, Fnac Lagoona Mall and online on the following websites: q-tickets.com, 800tickets.com and iloveqatar.net. -- Press Release 

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