Els Making 2006 Debut in Qatar


2005 Qatar MastersA fresh start on a new year. Or perhaps a fresh start on a second half of a career.
That's what faces Ernie Els as he tees it up this week in the European Tour's Qatar Masters at the Doha Golf Club.
The defending champion of this event, Els will be making his 2006 debut coming off a disappointing 2005 season that saw him go winless on the PGA Tour for the first time since 2001. He did manage a couple of European Tour wins early in the year, but had poor showings in the year's first three majors before his well-publicized season-ending knee injury.
But a return to the Middle East may be just what the doctor ordered for the Big Easy, as it was the scene of his lone bright spot last year. In back-to-back weeks Els won the Dubai Desert Classic and then the Qatar Masters.
'Maybe being in the Middle East will be good for me again. I always enjoy my time here and, hopefully, I can repeat what I achieved last season,' said Els on his website.
'Im looking forward to this new season maybe more than any other since I turned pro. That layoff through injury meant I could get some things straight in my head and evaluate some of my goals,' Els continued. 'Mentally and physically I feel good. And in the dunhill championship and the South African Open last month I was swinging the club great.
'You know, having recovered from such a bad injury, it almost seems that 2006 is going to be the start of the second half of my professional career. Im ready.'
Last year Els overcame a five-stroke deficit in the final round to capture the title. He fired a final-round, 7-under 65 to win by a stroke at 12-under-par 276. Joining Els in Qatar is quite an impressive field, with the llikes of world No. 2 Vijay Singh, Darren Clarke, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Thomas Bjorn.
The Qatar Masters is a joint-sanctioned event between both the European Tour and the Asian Tour.
The 2004 champion of the tournament, Swede Joakim Haeggman, is set to defend his title against the mighty Els.
Haeggman captured the event last year after firing a final-round 7-under 65 to notch the come-from-behind victory over Nobuhito Sato. It was Haeggman's first win in over seven years.
The event will be played at the Doha Golf Club in Qatar for the ninth straight year and offers a purse of $2,000,000.
Related links:
  • TGC Airtimes
  • Full Coverage - Qatar Masters