Qatar Masters 2014: Daily Leaderboard Analysis and More

Nick Akerman@NakermanFeatured ColumnistJanuary 22, 2014

Qatar Masters 2014: Daily Leaderboard Analysis and More

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    A strong field has assembled for the 2014 Qatar Masters, held at the Doha Golf Club from Jan. 22 to Jan. 25.

    Defending champion Chris Woods returns in an attempt to retain his crown, but the Englishman has plenty of talent to overcome if he is to leave the Middle East with his title still intact.

    Henrik Stenson, the European Tour's top-rated player, joins the likes of Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els and Ross Fisher, who can all be expected to challenge for the prize.

    Rafa Cabrera-Bello, George Coetzee and Thomas Bjorn are also among the selection who fell short at the Abu Dhabi Championship, while Pablo Larrazabal enters the lineup after his win in the United Arab Emirates.

    Darren Clarke has been forced to wait for his 500th European Tour appearance after pulling out of the competition through injury, per BBC Sport.   

Day 4: Garcia Finds Form and Claims Glory

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    It was an exciting final day's golf at the Qatar Masters, and one which will live in the memory of Sergio Garcia for a long time

    Garcia and compatriot Alejandro Canizares both shot up the leaderboard on Day 4, hitting impressive 65s and finishing in the upper echelons of the tournament.

    Canizares gained 15 places on his overnight position to finish tied for fifth, while Garcia climbed 10 spots to sit on top of the leaderboard, a positon he shared with Finland's Mikko Ilonen.

    There was no separating the two after the end of the round, so it went to the Qatar Masters' first playoff since 2003 in order to decide the winner.

    The first two trips around the 18th hole couldn't produce a winner, either, so both players returned to tee off again. Garcia was the first to falter, hitting his second shot into the bunker. His resulting chip shot was excellent, leaving him 40 feet away.

    Ilonen, however, could only respond by finding a bunker of his own. That left the Spaniard with a long left-to-right putt to take the tournament but he couldn't quite make it, instead skimming the right edge.

    It didn't matter, though, as Ilonen misread his putt to concede the tournament. Garcia now re-enters the Top 10 amid a wonderful day's play.

    As Ryan Lavner at the Golf Channel remarked, it's remarkable how Garcia manages to find form and then maintain it when he needs it most:

    Sergio wins Qatar Masters in a playoff, his 2nd title in his last 3 starts. Amazing how he finds love, then finds form.

    — Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) January 25, 2014
    PositionPlayerNationality Score 
    1. Sergio Garcia ESP -16 (wins after playoff)
    2. Mikko Ilonen FIN -16
    T3. Thorbjorn Olesen DNK -15
    T3. Rafa Cabrera-Bello ESP -15
    T5. Alejandro Canizares ESP -14
    T5. George Coetzee RSA -14
    T5. Thomas Aiken RSA -14
    T5. Steve Webster ENG -14
    T9. Magnus A. Carlsson SWE -13
    T9. Dawie van der Walt RSA -13 

Day 3: Steve Webster Joins Rafa Cabrera-Bello as Joint-Leaders

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    Rafa Cabrera-Bello dropped a two-shot overnight lead via his one-over round of 73 on Day 3 at the 2014 Qatar Masters.

    Cabrera-Bello's misstep allowed England's Steve Webster to reach the same score and tie for the lead after his two-under round of 70.

    A three-way tie for the No. 3 spot highlighted the rest of the action on the day. Impressive French rookie Adrien Saddier led the way with a jaw-dropping score of eight-under on a round of 64.

    Close behind Saddier were Denmark's Thorbjorn Olesen and South African Thomas Aiken.


    Here is a look at the current leaderboard:

    PositionPlayerNationality Score 
     T1 Steve Webster ENG -12
     T1 Rafa Cabrera-Bello ESP -12
     T3 Adrien Saddier FRA -11
     T3 Thorbjorn Olesen DNK -11
     T3 Thomas Aiken RSA -11
     T6 Fabrizio Zanotti PRY -10
     T6 Paul Lawrie SCT -10
     T6 Mikko Ilonen FIN -10
     T6 Johan Carlsson SWE -10
    T6George Coetzee RSA-10

    View the full leaderboard via the European Tour's official website.



    Webster finds himself well within reach of his first chance at a title since the 2007 Portugal Masters with his strong play so far at the Doha Golf Club.

    He admits that his strong performance on the range before the round led him to be a bit overconfident, via Paul Higham of Sky Sports, which would explain his miserable start marred by two dropped shots:

    That wasn't a pretty start, you were watching it and it was bad enough playing it! I hit it really good on the range and may have got a bit cocky on the course, I hit so many bad shots on the first six or holes - those first six were like I'd never played golf before. I've swung the club well apart from the first six holes today so I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

    Cabrera-Bello's day turned out to be worse as his two-shot lead evaporated, but said he hopes his bad round is out of his system with the final round on the horizon:

    But overall I hope I've got the not-so-good round out of the way and I'm still in a great position so I'm looking forward to tomorrow - anything can happen around this course so it's going to be very interesting.


Day 2: Cabrera-Bello Takes a Two-Shot Lead

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    Rafa Cabrera-Bello sunk five late birdies to confirm a two-shot lead at the Qatar Masters on Thursday, leapfrogging George Coetzee at 13-under at the top after a sumptuous display on Day 2.

    Here's a look at the current leaderboard:

    1.Rafa Cabrera-BelloESP-13
    2.George CoetzeeRSA-11
    T3.Steve WebsterENG-10
    T3.Johan CarlssonSWE-10
    T3.Matthew BaldwinENG-10
    T6.Thomas AikenRSA-9
    T6.Romain WattelFRA-9
    T6.Mikki IlonenFIN-9
    T6.Tom LewisENG-9

    Be sure to check out the full standings over on the European Tour's official website.

    Cabrera-Bello appears to have put his recent disappointment at the Abu Dhabi Championship behind him. Leading for much of the previous Middle Eastern tournament, his third round 71 ended any chance of winning in the United Arab Emirates.

    In Qatar, the Spaniard posted one bogey on his way to a second round 65, with seven birdies thrusting him up the leaderboard.

    The leader's consistency improved as the day progressed. Cabrera-Bello rounded off a great day's work with a 10-foot putt on the last, giving the former junior Ryder Cup player hopes of making Paul McGinley's full squad.

    The Las Palmas native expressed his happiness after the round, as noted on his official Twitter account:

    Even better today! -7! Enjoying myself a lot in this course! @European_Tour @OakleyMidEast @FootJoyEurope @TitleistonTour @EmiratesNBDgolf

    — Rafael Cabrera Bello (@RCabreraBello) January 23, 2014

    Coetzee's downfall came after he hit a double bogey at 11. The South African, who looked to have found his groove during the opening round, also dropped shots at holes three and 15.

    Challenge Tour graduate Johan Carlsson should be extremely pleased with his efforts after posting 65 for the day. The Swedish player matched Cabrera-Bello's second round score thanks to an eagle at 16, which helped make up for a trio of bogeys.

    England's Steve Webster and Matthew Baldwin are tied with Carlsson for third on 10-under. Webster, who landed a fantastic albatross on the opening day, didn't manage to replicate his memorable moment with a birdie on 10 this time.

    He spoke about his chances of repeating the shot, per the tournament's official website:

    I had the perfect yardage for my five wood again but just pulled it a bit and hit it to 40 feet. It was in my mind again and I thought back-to-back would be nice but it didn't happen.

    The moment  of the day went to Brandon Stone, who grabbed a hole-in-one with a fantastic 211-yard five-iron at 13.

    Baldwin dropped one in a steady round to maintain pace with Webster, but he'll need a more spectacular effort if he is to challenge for the title. Seven birdies will keep him in contention, but at the rate Cabrera-Bello is progressing, it won't be enough to gain a trophy.

    Defending champion Chris Woods put himself on one-under with a round of 70, which should be enough to scrape through the cut.

Day 1: Coetzee Takes 1-Shot Lead, Webster Stars with Albatross

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    George Coetzee led a day of South African success during the opening round of this year's Qatar Masters, ending the session with a one-shot lead after an eight-under-par 64.

    Dawie van der Walt, the leader's countryman, led the chasing pack alongside England's Steve Webster, both of whom finished seven under.

    Thomas Aiken, Branden Grace and Ernie Els also performed admirably, closing proceedings in joint-eighth with a score of five under—a shot behind a group of players on six under, including Ross Fisher.

    As noted by BBC Sport, play got underway 30 minutes late after fog held proceedings up.

    Here's a look at the current leaderboard:

    1.George CoetzeeRSA-8
    T2.Dawie Van der WaltRSA-7
    T2.Steve WebsterENG-7
    T4.Rafa Cabrera-BelloESP-6
    T4.Francois CalmelsFRA-6
    T4.Nacho ElviraESP-6
    T4.Ross FisherENG-6
    T8.Gaganjeet BhullarIND-5
    T8.Thomas AikenRSA-5
    T8.John DalyUSA-5
    T8.Paul LawrieSCO-5
    T8.Branden GraceRSA-5
    T8.Ernie ElsRSA-5

    View the full leaderboard via the European Tour's official website.


    Coetzee made a fantastic start with three birdies across the front nine, and the 27-year-old really upped his game heading into the latter half of the round.

    He sunk an eagle at No. 10 but lost a smidgen of momentum with a bogey at 13. He quickly regained his composure, though, hitting three consecutive birdies before entering the clubhouse.

    The putter was his weapon of choice:

    21 putts today for @gcoetzeegolf (with a 3 putt in there to boot)! Strong flatstick form #ETLiveBlog #CBQMGolf

    — The European Tour (@European_Tour) January 22, 2014

    Coetzee's calm assurance was perhaps toppled by Webster, who delivered the shot of the day with an albatross at the 10th—his first hole of the day:

    Wow! An albatross on 1st hole of day? Yeah, alright. Steve Webster -3 thru 1 after 5wd from 254yds found cup on 10 #ETLiveBlog #CBQMGolf

    — The European Tour (@European_Tour) January 22, 2014

    The Englishman claimed a moment of history when sinking his second stroke from 254 yards, becoming the first player to begin a European Tour event with such a success.

    He was suitably pleased with his efforts and jokingly discussed the shot, as reported by Sky Sports:

    Because I carry a big crowd following me, there were about two people behind the green and one of them started jumping up and pointing down and I didn't know if it had gone over the back into the rocks or in! I got up there and he started clapping and it was a dream start.

    Webster hit just one bogey on No. 6 and joins van der Walt one shot behind the lead.

    The latter is looking particularly confident right now—perhaps on the back of his win at the recent Nelson Mandela Championship—and managed to get through the round without dropping a single shot.

    Van der Walt posted an eagle on the first hole, and considering his form, he's sure to be among the front-runners at the end of the competition.

    Elsewhere, a tight pack is forming below the top three, led by Spanish duo Rafa Cabrera-Bello and Nacho Elvira at six under. England's Fisher and France's Francois Calmels also remain in contention and will look to push clear of one another on Day 2.

    Defending champion Chris Woods suffered a difficult day and is currently one over. He bogeyed Nos. 9, 10, 11, 15 and 18 to fall well behind Coetzee at the top, suggesting a successful title defence is unlikely.