Doha (QATAR): Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn lifted the 11th European Tour title of his career yesterday (Sunday) after easing to a four-shot victory in the Commercialbank Qatar Masters presented by Dolphin Energy at Doha Golf Club.
The Dane saw off a spirited challenge from 2009 champion Alvaro Quiros to finish with a three under par 69 for a total of 274 (-14). Spanish big-hitter Quiros finished runner-up for the second year in a row on ten under with Austria’s Markus Brier and Spain’s Rafael Cabrera Bello tied for third on nine under par.
“It was a question of hanging in there as I didn’t play well for the first six holes,” said Bjorn after receiving the Mother of Pearl trophy from Hassan Al Nuaimi, President of the Qatar Golf Association (QGA), and Commercialbank Group CEO Andrew Stevens.
“I stood on the tenth tee with a four?shot lead and knew it was going to be difficult for them to catch me if I made par all the way in. But Alvaro put in a stint where he threw a few birdies in and it became a little bit tense.”
Despite a surge that saw Quiros get to within a shot of the Dane, the Spaniard’s swashbuckling charge was derailed in a matter of minutes on the 15th when Quiros three-putted for bogey to drop back to nine under.
Bjorn, watching from 180 metres back down the fairway, fired a sublime seven iron to four feet and claimed his first birdie of the day for a two shot swing that effectively killed the contest. Two more birdies over the next three holes sealed an impressive win for Bjorn who moves back into the world’s top 60 and third in the Race to Dubai.
“In the end it became a bit of a cruise,” added Bjorn, “but I’m delighted with the week. I played solid golf – just one bogey in the last 54 holes – and on this golf course and in these conditions, that’s good going.”
For Quiros it was another case of what might have been. Last year, he missed out on a successful title defence by three shots to Robert Karlsson and the Spaniard again has to settle for second place despite a final round 68 (-4). It was a position he was more than happy to take.
“Yesterday I was thinking I was going to finish top five but I finished second on my own,” he said. “Unfortunately I made three putts on fifteen and I a stupid bogey on seventeen so that made it tough to reach him (Bjorn). But I’m very pleased to be where I am.”
Going into the final round with a one-shot advantage, Bjorn was never really troubled until the late Quiros charge. Playing partner Brier did manage to get level on eleven under par after the first hole but the Austrian’s challenge faded with four bogeys on the front nine putting paid to his chances of a third European Tour title.
Organised by the Qatar Golf Association (QGA), Qatar Olympic Committee (QOC) and title sponsors Commercialbank, the 14th Commercialbank Qatar Masters presented by Dolphin Energy saw Bjorn pick up 50 world ranking points after a wind-battered tournament that featured many of the world’s biggest name players.
“To win a golf tournament like this by four shots is something to be proud of,” added Bjorn. “It means I can look back at and say, well, yeah, I didn’t only do it in a golf tournament; I did it when the best were playing and you’ve got to be happy with that.”
While World Number One Lee Westwood was the highest profile casualty after failing to make the cut, World Number Two Martin Kaymer made up some ground in his efforts to become the man at the summit of golf’s world rankings with a final round one under par 71 that saw him finish in a share of 28th place. Visiting Americans John Daly and Steve Stricker both closed their Doha debuts with rounds of 74 and 69 respectively.