Robert Karlsson showed he can still hit the target when he spent some time clay-pigeon shooting in Doha ahead of this week’s Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, which tees off on Wednesday.
Karlsson, who won the tournament at Doha Golf Club in 2010, showed pinpoint accuracy with a rifle as the 11-time European Tour champion hit multiple targets during his alternative choice of target practice.
“I enjoy shooting. My father taught me when I was young, but I was a bit unsure about it until I was much older. Then I did my military service and learnt properly then,” said 44-year-old Karlsson.
The 1.96-metre Swede, who won the European Tour money list in 2008, is a big fan of the Qatar Masters, having competed in the inaugural edition in 1998 and now set for his 13th appearance.
“I like the hotels in Qatar; I like the atmosphere at the golf tournament; I like the golf course. It’s a good event and the course has usually played pretty difficult, because it can be windy, and is usually quite a tough set-up on the golf course,” Karlsson said.
“It’s windy and the par-five ninth is very long (639 yards). If you play it well, you can be a couple under, but if not, you can be a couple over and that’s unusual for a par-five,” he said. “It’s a little bit different to many other golf courses. Here you have to play a very patient game, take the birdies when they come and try to avoid making any mistakes.”
Young Qatari golfers are enjoying an increasing presence at the tournament, with 19-year-olds Saleh Al Kaabi and Ali Al Bishi making a second appearance in the event and bidding to become the first local to make the cut in the country’s biggest event.
On Monday afternoon, six young Qataris, ranging in age from 13-16, split into three teams to team up with Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia and Jason Dufner in a nine-hole Challenge Match. Karlsson supports the moves to encourage local participation, on and off the course.
“Qatar is a young golfing nation, so a week like this is fantastic for them,” Karlsson said. “They can watch the top players in the world and see what we’re doing and try to improve on it. My advice would be to watch how we are practising as well as playing.”