Monday, 19 January 2015

Qatar Masters 2015

The second leg of the "Desert Swing" moves to Doha, Qatar this week I'm sure the hour long flight from Abu Dhabi was full of conversation around Martin Kaymer's collapse on Sunday but the players will have little time to dwell on it as they are back in action on Wednesday as opposed to Thursday. One thing the players should take from it though is to keep going and never give up, afterall it's a 72 hole competition. Unfortunately, the same goes with my picks for last week as it looked very promising for 3 of those to secure TOP10s, until they each imploded in their own way during the final round. That said, I was delighted with Robert Karlsson's effort last week, he grabbed a lot of birdies and between himself & Martin Kaymer, they accounted for the majority of dropped shots on the 9th hole over the four days between the two of them. The Swede was +5 for that hole alone. He can dismiss Abu Dhabi as a warm up for this week where he will return to an event he has won in the past. At 50/1, he has to be a serious consideration again this week.

From my shortlist, tweeted on Monday, two time Qatar Masters winner, Paul Lawrie has shown progressive form lately and if the wind blows as it invariably does here, then the Aberdeen man can go close again. He has been working hard on his putting of late and I think he is a real contender for this. Lawrie finished TOP20 last week following a decent effort in South Africa the week before. He arrives in good nick and will relish the conditions. At 90.00 on Betfair he's worth a punt on the outright and the 6.50 for TOP10 can't be ignored either.

I was keen to back Branden Grace this week. He's in very good form and if not for a poorish second round last week he would have been contending for another title in Abu Dhabi. The bookies have acted accordingly though and the 29.00/30.00 price I was looking for is gone, with best price 26.00 now available. I wouldn't put anyone off but I'll opt for Tongchai Jaidee at 90.00 instead (5.50 TOP10). The Thai has been a model of consistency and rarely misses the cut. He doesn't do it here either with form figures of 33-9-20-19-32 (avg 22nd) the last five years. He did miss the cut back in 2009 but also enjoyed an average finishing poistion of 21st the previous five years. He's 3.00 to finish TOP20 this week. He arrives fresh this week too !

I'm adding one of my favourites here this week in the shape of Thomas Aiken @ 80/1 (7.50 TOP10). Aiken recently took out the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit and should be in confident mood despite missing the cut last week. Fifth here twelve months ago and 6th in 2011, the South African has course form. Doha over the years has proven that having course knowledge can be crucial as the tournament has thrown up many multiple winners. Aside from Lawrie, Adam Scott has won twice here and notable "links proven" players have also prevailed - Chris Wood, Retief Goosen, Thomas Bjorn, and Ernie Els. Aiken is decent value for me here at this price and has to be included.

Steve Webster finished T12th in Abu Dhabi in his 2015 opener and he can kick on from that effort on a track he clearly likes. 5th & 4th the last two seasons suggests he does indeed feel comfortable in Doha, and with a further 3 TOP20s in his previous seven starts, the Englishman has a decent chance of a good showing @ 90.00 (8.50 TOP10). He may not get off to the start like he did here last year though as he holed his second shot on his first hole to record an albatross, the first time a player ever opened up a tournament posting -3 after just 1 hole. I wonder will he put that same 5 wood in the bag this week ? fond memories can often motivate a player to do well and he's bound to have those when teeing it up Wednesday.

Lastly, to complete the staking plan my second TOP20 bet rests with Oliver Wilson who also has shown his liking for links when winning the Dunhill last year. He has course form here - 5th in 2010 as well as two TOP20s in 2011 & 2008. He's 9/1 to grab a TOP20 here with Betpack, so yes please!

Staking Plan (15 pts)

0.50 pts WIN R.Karlsson @ 51.00
0.25 pts WIN P.Lawrie @ 90.00
0.25 pts WIN T.Jaidee @ 90.00
0.25 pts WIN T.Aiken @ 81.00
0.25 pts S.Webster @ 90.00


2 pts TOP10 R.Karlsson @ 5.00
1.5 pts TOP10 P.Lawrie @ 6.50
1.25 pts WIN T.Aiken @ 7.50
1.25 pts S.Webster @ 8.50

5 pts TOP20 T.Jaidee @ 3.00
2.5 pts TOP20 O.Wilson @ 10.00