The Qatar Masters continues in its annual spot as the middle-leg of the trio of tournaments that comprise the European Tour’s Desert Swing, and the 20th renewal kicks-off on Thursday 26 January, rather than on the Wednesday like recent renewals.
The Doha Gold Club again plays host, and this 7,400-yards par-72 is usually a test that suits players who excel on links golf courses, mainly due to its exposed nature and the windy conditions that often prevail.
The role of honour certainly adds plenty of weight to the theory the course suits Links-loving players, with past winners including Brandon Grace (2), Sergio Garcia, Chris Wood, Paul Lawrie (2), Thomas Bjorn, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, and Adam Scott (2). Therefore, this week’s betting strategy must be to back players who have shown good recent form on links courses.
Alex Noren may be joint-favourite this week, but he looks well worth including in any betting portfolio. The world number 10 isn’t quite getting the credit he deserves for winning 4 tournaments last year, which included the Scottish Open, and he’s got previous course form here with a 4th and a 9th in his last 3 appearances. A much better player now, he looks likely to go close after blowing the cobwebs away last week when finishing 13th in Abu Dhabi.
Another recent prolific winner who blew away the cobwebs last week was Thorbjorn Olesen, and the winner of 3 of his last 57 tournaments looks overpriced in this field, especially considering his love of Links Golf. A previous winner of the Dunhill Links, he excelled in the Golf World Cup around a course that is widely regarded as one of the top links courses in the world. He’s also posted two top 3’s here in the last 3-years.
Two young British players who were brought up on Links courses also look worth including in this week’s betting strategy, and Paul Dunne and Callum Shinkwin both look sure to hit the leaderboard on several occasions this year. Dunne caught the eye in the 2015 Open Championship, and is fancied to have a prosperous career if he can learn to perform better on Sundays. Meanwhile, Shinkwin has kicked-on from his decent amateur career, and this big-hitter could make a big impact here with a season on the European Tour under his belt. 35th last year, he also has the services of a new caddie who has caddied for a previous winner at this venue.
Qatar Masters Recommended Bets
Alex Noren 1.5 Points Each-Way @ 12/1 (Boylesports, Betfair Sportsbook) ¼ odds 5 places
Thorbjorn Olesen 1.5 Points Each-Way @ 28/1 (Various Bookies) ¼ odds 5 places
Paul Dunne 1 Point Each-way @ 100/1 (Various Bookies) ¼ odds 5 places
Callum Shinkwin 1 Point Each-way @ 110/1 (Bet365) ¼ odds 5 places