The ‘Qatar Masters’ team of Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer defeated ‘Football Masters’ Gordon Strachan, Andy Gray and Chris Coleman in a golf and football target challenge ahead of this week’s Commercial Bank Qatar Masters at Doha Golf Club.
The ‘Commercial Bank Masters Shootout’ between the golf stars and football legends was held at the new QAFCO Family Zone and featured three different targets, each offering 10, 20 and 50 points depending on accuracy. Every player first kicked a tennis ball at the target and after all six players had a shot, they each used a plastic golf club to chip the ball at the target from a longer distance.
Surprisingly, three of the world’s best golfers were initially better at the kicking than the golf – all are capable footballers – but two showed their short-game prowess at the crucial time, with first Martin Kaymer and then Sergio Garcia each nailing 50 points with their final golf shots to secure victory.
“That was good fun,” said Stenson, the World No. 3 and winner of last year’s Race to Dubai and FedEx Cup. “I probably overachieved on the football part. I got a 50 on my first kick, but I guess the golf part was a little bit tougher. It took a little time to get used to the club and I never got used to it. Luckily the boys came good at the end.”
The star-studded shootout also doubled as the launch of United Through Golf, a programme initiated by Doha Golf Club designed to promote the sport and its core values in the local community. Stenson believes what he’s seen in the Family Zone could prove a winning attraction this week and in the future.
“It’s a good, fun way to try playing golf, especially for kids and because you can have a relaxed little competition with your friends as well. It’s a nice initiative, a fun way to do it and it’s absolutely the right way to get kids to start playing. Hopefully that will attract a few more youngsters to our game.”
Strachan, the current Scotland manager, said the shootout brought back memories of his own penalty-taking days during a career that included 50 caps for Scotland and starring roles for Aberdeen, Manchester United and Leeds United.
“The golfers can handle the pressure and that’s why they’re at the top of their game. They’re Ryder Cup players and when it comes to pressure, that’s nothing to them,” said the 56-year-old former winger, who competed at the 1982 and 1986 World Cups.
“However, I can’t handle the pressure any more. The kicks and chips before were okay, but when it came to the crucial one and we needed a 50, I just collapsed. That sums up my golf for the day. I thought once I got off the golf course, things would get better, but they got worse,” joked Strachan, referring to the tournament Pro-Am.
Strachan believes the United Through Golf initiative and the Family Zone attractions on display could help attract more people to the sport.
“I have to say that Andy, Chris and myself really enjoyed that. We thought it was fun. We were out there practising for ages, even it proved a waste of time! But it was really good fun and that’s what you want. I think every kid can play a sport and it’s finding what you’re good at. Golf for me is the best sport of all.”
Strachan also teamed up with Gray and Coleman in the Pro-Am, playing with American star John Daly, a two-time major winner. The 58-year-old Gray is a former Scotland striker and one of British football’s most famous television pundits, while the 42-year-old Coleman isthe current Wales manager and a former Wales defender.
Andy McCormick of United Through Golf was delighted to have six world-famous sportsmen help launch the initiative. “I was really delighted with it. One of the great things about it was that the format, presenting golf in a really fun way, meant that everyone could enjoy it, all the way up to the world’s best players,” McCormick said.
“That’s really what it’s about – playing golf in a fun way and helping promote the sport’s core values. It’s really encouraging to see top-class players and recreational players together, just having a good time. It’s about getting people together and enjoying the sport.”
Stenson, Garcia and Kaymer, a former World No. 1, are among a gallery of stars competing in this week’s Qatar Masters. Other big names include four-time major champion Ernie Els, 2013 PGA Championship winner Jason Dufner and former World No. 1 Luke Donald.