By Sports Reporter/Doha
European Tour’s only multiple winner of the 2018 season, Shubhankar
Sharma, will join the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters defending champion
Jeunghun Wang in the field when a host of rising stars play the 21st
edition of the historic event, from February 22-25.
Sharma is currently sitting pretty as the European Tour’s number one player after winning twice in just six appearances this season, and only 13 career appearances on the tour.
His first came at the Joburg Open in December, when he stormed to a three-shot victory thanks in part to a stunning second round 61, before he confirmed his status as one of the tour’s most exciting prospects by winning the Maybank Championship in swashbuckling style as he signed for a final round 62 to finish two strokes clear.
That victory moved the 21-year-old to the top of the year-long points list for the 2018 European Tour season, ahead of Tommy Fleetwood, and the Indian is looking forward to making his debut in Qatar next week.
“I watched Jeunghun Wang last year on the television and that was really nice to see,” said Sharma. “I know it’s very windy and it looks challenging but I think I will really enjoy it there.
“Obviously I’m playing well at the moment and I will be hoping for another good week at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters.”
Wang, meanwhile, will make the short trip from Oman following this week’s NBO Oman Open, to return to the scene of a dramatic triumph last year, claiming a third career title after overcoming Swede Joakim Lagergren and Jaco Van Zyl of South Africa courtesy of a birdie at the first play-off hole.
“It feels really good to be going back to the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters as the defending champion. Oman is obviously here in the same region and I like being here, there’s always good weather, nice courses and nice views. I’m very excited to be going back there though,” Wang said.
“I don’t remember a lot from last year because all I was thinking about was winning, but it was a really good experience for me, an unforgettable one.
“I’m hitting the ball really well right now, I’m driving well, my irons are good but my putting is not great in the last couple of weeks. If I put well maybe I can give myself a chance to win again.”
A strong field of golfing heroes will once again assemble at Doha Golf Club for the event, which boasts a star-studded list of former winners including the 1999 Open champion Paul Lawrie, who has twice triumphed in the Qatari capital.
The 2016 Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke plays the event for the seventh time but for the first time since 2011, when he finished in a share of 12th place before later that season lifting the Claret Jug 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 thanks to a tied ninth finish as Andrew Coltart earned his maiden European Tour victory.
The 2018 Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn, meanwhile, will land in Qatar confident of a strong performance on a course upon which he has played 13 times, and claimed victory in 2011.
The great Dane has made the weekend in ten of those 13 appearances, with two top ten finishes to add to his win seven years ago. He has been playing his way back into form early in the 2018 campaign with ten of his 13 rounds thus far this season under par, six of them sub-70.
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