Commercialbank Qatar Masters

What does Alex Noren's week look like?

World Number 10 Alex Noren starts this week’s Commercial Bank Qatar Masters as the field’s highest-ranked player, but the quiet Swede says his approach to the game has changed little since first competing in Doha on an invitation in 2007.

 

Noren, 34, won four European Tour titles in the second half of last year to soar up to World Number Nine and this week will play the first two rounds at Doha Golf Club in a high-profile group with four-time Major winner Ernie Els and Ryder Cup rookie sensation Rafa Cabrera Bello.

Noren, however, doesn’t appear affected at all by his rapid rise into golf’s top ranks and hasn’t let his new top-10 status change his outlook.

“I really enjoy this tournament and I feel being the highest-ranked player is a positive. It gives me a lot of satisfaction, especially because I came here in 2007 on a wildcard. I got an invite and shot millions (77-74), so it feels better coming here this time,” joked Noren, who won the first of his eight European Tour titles in 2009.

Noren finished third in the 2016 Race to Dubai Rankings after a sensational run of results starting with last July’s Scottish Open victory, but says the improvement in his results was due more to a greater understanding of his game than any drastic changes. 

“I don't think I'm such a different player. The skill level has not increased dramatically, but I’m more aware of my weaknesses and strengths, and I can strategically work my way around them,” Noren said.

Noren’s best finishes at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters were fourth in 2013 and ninth in 2015, and he believes his increasingly low-risk approach suits the Doha Golf Club layout and its conditions. 

“Since it's so windy, it's important to hit the greens. If you hit even a nine-iron to 30 feet, it's not that bad. When it’s really tough conditions, it's even more important to be nice to yourself and don't put too much pressure on going for every pin,” he said. 

“So maybe that's why I've been successful in the past to strategically work my way around this course. You have a lot of birdie opportunities and try to avoid making bogeys. In windy conditions, I think that’s even more important.” 

Tommy Fleetwood leads the Race to Dubai Rankings after winning in Abu Dhabi last week and the Englishman will play the first two rounds with compatriot Graeme Storm, victorious in South Africa two weeks ago, and German star Martin Kaymer, a two-time Major champion and 11-time European Tour winner. 

“Winning in Abu Dhabi was a great way to start the year, very cool,” Fleetwood said. “I played well here last year. I actually feel like this course suits me more than last week. This one kind of fits my eye a little bit more. My game shouldn't have gone off too much, so we'll just see how we go and hopefully we’ll carry on.” 

Chris Wood is also excited about his chances as he seeks to follow up on his dramatic 2013 victory, when he eagled the final hole for a one-shot win. 

“Every year I come back here, I always remember the shots I hit and the finish in particular. Eagling the last to beat one of my childhood heroes, Sergio García, is pretty special, so every year I come back, I sort of feel like I’m going to give myself a chance, just because of the memories I have. I always love coming back,” said Wood, who will play the first 36 holes with Ryder Cup teammate Andy Sullivan and 2010 winner Robert Karlsson.

 

Tickets for the 20th Commercial Bank Qatar Masters are now available for purchase. Click here for more information.

Tournament day

Ticket type

Ticket price

Thursday 26 January

General admission ticket

QAR 150

Friday 27 January

General admission ticket

QAR 200

Saturday 28 January

General admission ticket

QAR 200

Sunday 29 January

General admission ticket

QAR 200

Season Pass Thursday to Sunday

Includes general admission on all four days

QAR 450

 

Entry is free for children under 14 years of age.