EW Terms: 1/5 Odds | 7 Places
While many presumed that this fragile talent had just lost interest in the game during his lengthy absence in 2018, Dubuisson was living in Andorra recovering from a perforated ear drum and generally getting his head together. During that thinking time he rededicated himself to the game, changed diet and secretly watched everything single shot of the Ryder Cup on TV. The passion had returned. The comeback started with a missed cut in Hong Kong but in three outings in the desert in 2019 he's improved his position each time - T38 Dubai Desert Classic, T18 Saudi International, T12 Oman Open, when nearly collecting a place for this column. Now he gets to play a course, Doha GC, on which he's never finished outside the top 10 in three starts. It's been a while since he contested the Qatar Masters (2013) but Dubuisson loves the test and, at his best, few in this field can live with him. In his current upbeat mood, it makes sense to try and cash in.
After several good efforts at big odds during this rookie season, Lucas Herbert is high on my list of first-time winners-in-waiting. The 23 year-old looks another world-class prospect to emerge from Australia and I think he will find Doha GC very much to his liking on debut. There is a longstanding correlation between this event and the Portugal Masters - both are good targets for bombers and Herbert is one of the longest drivers around. The closest he came to a victory in 2018 was in Portugal, when trading at odds-on down the stretch. Although Lucas missed his last three cuts, he previously showed top form at a Gulf venue against a stronger field, when seventh in the Dubai Desert Classic.
Excuse the pun, but I was blown away by how well Brandon Stone handled the severe windy conditions on Saturday in Oman last week. He fell away disappointingly after heading the market at halfway, when just a stroke off the lead, but it was a strange week with Friday's long delay badly affecting Stone's side of the draw. The 25-year-old South African has already won three times on the European Tour and on the last occasion he shot 60 in round four of last year's Scottish Open to collar last year's Qatar Masters champ, Eddie Pepperell, so he's every bit a proven links performer with a form line that ties in nicely here. Links form has counted for plenty at Doha previously and especially so when the wind has blown as hard as its forecast to this time around.
For a three year stretch between 2009-11 Alvaro Quiros finished no worse than runner-up at the Qatar Masters. That's strong, if a little old course form, but given the relentlessly up-and-down nature of Quiros' results we can back this course lover at 100/1 this week. At those odds I have to ride the Big Al rollercoaster one more time! First things first, that good play dates back a decade or so but this is a tournament where he generally enjoys himself - he has only twice missed the cut there and finished in the top 20 last year. Quiros, the 2009 Qatar Masters champ, already has one notable result through the Gulf Swing, finishing third at the Dubai Desert Classic. That is another Middle East golf tournament that he has previously won so he doesn't look a no-hoper to me, although there is every chance that he bombs out after two days, but when you play Big Al that is just a risk you have to take!
This is a very weak renewal of the Qatar Masters and I see little downside to backing Thomas Aiken each-way at a join industry-best 80/1 this week. From his last seven appearances at Doha GC Aiken has just one missed cut to his name and he's finished inside the top six on three occasions. That's encouraging enough, but it's perhaps important to point out that his sixth and fifth place finishes here a few years ago where when the Qater Masters attracted a very strong field. Par 5 Scoring is usually key at this venue, and 35-year-old Aiken ranks very highly in that statistic among this week's entries, and although the South African's most recent form isn't anything to shout home about he did finish tied third in his home open a few months back while a T31 in the desert last week offered plenty of encouragement.