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Wednesday, March 10, 2021

The Commercial Bank Qatar Masters

At first I was a bit surprised to see the Qatar Masters opposite THE PLAYERS, which I would expect to draw the stronger field. After all, it's not like the ET hasn't had other spots available over the last month or so. But perhaps they decided that there was some advantage to being an opposite field event. I can definitely see that, especially with the pandemic playing havoc with travel for the ET.

Defending champion Jorge Campillo

It's not only the pandemic that has caused problems; it's just the latest addition. While this event had grown into a fairly prestigious tournament a few years ago, travel difficulties caused by diplomatic problems in 2018 forced the event to move to a weaker position in the schedule, and lower purses followed. Now the ET's worldwide schedule -- which under normal circumstances is a strength of the tour -- has a number of things working against it.

With most of the big names who qualify teeing it up in Florida, Qatar actually becomes a strong draw for those with no place to play this week. While the event has had weaker fields over the last few years, there aren't as many options available this year so perhaps the field will be stronger.

In addition to defending champion Jorge Campillo, a few players from the WGC and Puerto Rico Open who didn't make THE PLAYERS field are in the Qatar field. Thomas Pieters, Thomas Detry, Rasmus Højgaard, Andy Sullivan, Wade Orsmby, Brandon Stone and Aaron Rai are members of that group. Kurt Kitiyama is also teeing it up -- of course I'd know about the two-time ET winner because he's an American player! And I saw Eddie Pepperell, Jazz Janewattananond and Pablo Larrazabal in the field.

GC's coverage starts Thursday morning at 6:30am ET. It only looks to be a couple of hours but at least it's an acknowledgement that the event is going on. Given the pandemic, I think just playing the Qatar Masters is a pretty big accomplishment.

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