: US PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner will make a second straight appearance at the US$2.5 million Commercial Bank Qatar Masters when he competes at the 17th edition of the tournament, which will be held at Doha Golf Club from 22-25 January.
Currently World No. 13, the 36-year-old American is the latest star player to join a field that includes current World No. 3 Henrik Stenson, former World No. 1 Luke Donald, multiple major champions Ernie Els and John Daly, 20-time European Tour winner Miguel Angel Jimenez and title holder Chris Wood.
Dufner finished joint ninth in his Doha debut last year following rounds of 71, 70, 67 and 69, and believes he can contend for the title this year having gained experience of the Championship Course.
“I’m looking forward to competing for a second time in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters where I played pretty well last year. I am hoping I can improve upon my finish this time around,” he said.
“It’s a really good tournament. I enjoyed the course and the hospitality, and if I can hole a few more putts than I did last time, I hope that will have me in contention on the weekend. I’m playing nicely and enjoying the start of a new year,” added Dufner, who was fifth at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii earlier this month.
Dufner made his major breakthrough at the US PGA Championship last August when he shot a closing 68 at the Oak Hill Country Club in New York to win by two strokes from compatriot Jim Furyk, with Stenson third.
It was an especially sweet victory as Dufner had lost a playoff to Keegan Bradley in the same tournament two years earlier, having held a five-shot lead with four holes to play.
“Winning the PGA Championship was a great feeling and was especially nice after coming so close two years earlier. This time I felt calm and confident at the end so to win was certainly rewarding” said Dufner, who set a course record at Oak Hill with his second-round 63.
“It’ll be nice to go to Doha as the reigning PGA Championship winner, as a major champion, and I’m looking forward to putting on a good performance.”
Dufner, whose pre-shot waggle and swing have drawn comparisons to the legendary Ben Hogan, enjoyed other highlights last year, tying for fourth at the US Open for a second straight year and helping USA win the Presidents Cup in October.
One of golf’s late bloomers, Dufner captured his first PGA Tour title in late April 2012, then won again three weeks later and finished runner-up the following week to break into the world’s top 10 for the first time.
The laid-back American eventually finished fourth on the 2012 PGA Tour money list with almost US$4.9 million and made his Ryder Cup debut at Medinah, where he finished on the losing side despite winning three out of four points.
Hassan Al Nuaimi, President, Qatar Golf Association, believes Dufner’s decision to return to Doha so soon after winning his first major is a tribute to the tournament itself, as well as another huge boost for golf fans in Qatar.
“We’re especially proud that Jason Dufner is competing in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters for a second consecutive year, especially just five months after he won the PGA Championship in such style. It’s truly an honour to welcome a current major champion,” Al Nuaimi said.
“Jason was a popular contender in Doha last year and obviously enjoyed himself, so we’re delighted he will be making a return to Qatar after already starting the year competing in the USA. I have a feeling he may be even better this year as he will be more familiar with the course at Doha Golf Club, where he will be another big star for the fans to follow.”