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European Tour preview: Qatar Masters fantasy, betting picks includes Garcia

Preview – European Tour – Commercial Bank Qatar Masters – Doha Golf Club – Doha, Qatar –

The European Tour’s Commercial Bank Qatar Masters tees off Wednesday this week at Doha Country Club and features a Saturday finish.

Dating back to 1998, the European Tour event visits the Middle East’s Persian Gulf with Race To Dubai points up for grabs. The tour is coming off two unique tournament finishes to launch the 2015 calendar year.

At the South African Open, Charl Schwartzel was in position to win before losing it on the final round and yielding to Andy Sullivan in a playoff. Then last week, three-time event champ and two-time major champion Martin Kaymer lost a 10-shot lead during the final 18 holes dropping the tournament to then-357th ranked Gary Stal.

Anything could happen this week with a field headlined by defending champion Sergio Garcia, 5th-ranked Justin Rose and World No.2 Henrik Stenson. Former Masters champion Schwartzel is also playing.

World Golf Hall of Fame member Ernie Els tees it up this week with Stenson and Garcia Wednesday in the opening round at 11:55 a.m. local time. One of the feature morning wave groupings is Rose, Schwartzel and Stephen Gallacher heading off the 10th at Doha Golf Club at 7:45 a.m.

The course, reaching 7,400 yards and playing to a par 72, is unique in its design with both nine-hole layouts beginning and ending with par-5s.

Past champions in the field include Els (2005), Stenson (2006), Retief Goosen (2007) and Thomas Bjorn (2011).

Golf Channel has television coverage from Wednesday to Saturday.

2014 Results:

  • Garcia (16-under) carded a final-round 65 to tie Mikko Ilonen and force a playoff. Garcia won the title on the third playoff hole. Rafa Cabrera-Bella and Thorbjorn Olesen ended up T-3 a shot outside of the playoff. George Coetzee and Thomas Aiken were among those to log a Top 5.

FANTASY: Garcia, a Top 10 player in the world ranking, is a solid pick at this venue. He has five Top 10s at Qatar including a runner-up finish in 2014. Consider one of the winners from earlier this season – Stal, Branden Grace or Sullivan in this spot. Take Schwartzel, who has contended in back-to-back weeks thus far. He carded a third-round 65 last week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

BETTORS: Garcia is outright betting favorite at www.ladbrokes.com at 7-to-1 odds and for good reason at Doha. But, consider Stenson (10-1), who is coming off a missed cut last week. Schwartzel (16-1) is a solid value after playing well to start 2015.

Other Golf News:

  • The 62nd PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando takes place this week in Orlando. The event’s Demo Day showcases the game’s newest equipment. Top instructions are expected to be a part of the teaching demonstrations.  Golf Channel has inside coverage of the event.
  • Bill Haas, one of the favorites this week on the PGA Tour, tees it up at the Humana Challenge in La Quita, California this Thursday. Haas, a former FedEx Cup champion, won the title in 2010 and was a runner up in 2011.
  • Miguel Angel Jimenez, who carded a hole-in-one last week on the European Tour, tees it up this week at the Champions Tour season-opener in Hawaii at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship. Jimenez is the outright betting favorite at www.skybet.com at 4 ½-1. Bernhard Langer (6-1) is the defending champion.