By Sports Reporter/Doha
Defending champion Jeunghun Wang is hopeful a return to his happy hunting ground at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters can be a springboard up the Official World Golf Rankings this week.
The South Korean claimed his third European Tour win in eight months last season at Doha Golf Club to reach a career-high ranking of 39th and earn himself access to golf’s biggest events.
Wang made just four of his next 15 cuts over the summer but has missed just one since the US PGA Championship, with four top 30s in the desert, and is confident he can start moving up from his current position of World Number 123.
“I’m so happy to be back in Qatar,” he said. “I love playing this course so I’m very excited to get back out there and I think my game is ready to go too.
“I played really well here last year, obviously, as I won! I hope I can play similar to last year. I didn’t expect those wins so early on the European Tour, even my first one in Morocco – I couldn’t believe it and I still can’t. I’m still trying to win every tournament so hopefully I play well this week. This was my biggest win in terms of the field and the prize money so this is a big tournament for me. It got me into Majors and WGC events.
“I’m hitting the ball well now but my putting is not very good,” he said.
“I’m working on it a lot so hopefully it works this week. It’s getting better and I’ve made all four cuts in my events this year and I played well in those events, so I feel really good coming into this week. I like windy courses and I like this course too. I also have good memories so I love playing here and it should be fun.”
The tournament’s star-studded list of former winners includes former champions Paul Lawrie, Darren Clarke, Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn and his vice-captain Robert Karlsson.
For Lawrie, this week is a 19th trip to Qatar as he returns to the place that he believes set the stage for his greatest triumph. A victory here in 1999 was followed later in the year by his dramatic triumph at the Open Championship, while his victory in 2012 helped him make his second Ryder Cup appearance some 13 years after his first.
At 49, Lawrie admits it can be difficult to compete with some of the younger players on Tour but on a windy layout that perfectly complements his links style, he is well capable of another flourish before dipping his toe into the Staysure Tour next season.
“It’s always nice to come back to a place where you’ve done well before,” he said.
Clarke, meanwhile, plays the event for the seventh time but for the first time since 2011, when he finished in tied-12th before lifting the Claret Jug later that season courtesy of a dominant display at Royal St George’s.
The Northern Irishman played in the inaugural edition of the event back in 1998, when he claimed his best finish to date in the event, a tied-ninth, even as Andrew Coltart earned his maiden European Tour victory.
The 2018 Ryder Cup captain Bjorn is also confident of a strong performance on a course upon which he has played 13 times, and claimed victory in 2011.
Other former Ryder Cup stars in the field for this year’s event include Englishmen Chris Wood and Andy Sullivan. Jamie Donaldson, who famously struck the winning shot of the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, is also joined in the field by his teammates for that triumph under Paul McGinley, Victor Dubuisson and Stephen Gallacher.
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