Qatar Masters Preview: Here's how to watch, and who to back
The European Tour returns to Doha Golf Club this week for the 21st edition of the Qatar Masters as players compete for the infamous Mother of Pearl Trophy.
But what is certain is that a new champion will be crowned come Sunday afternoon, as last year's champion Eddie Pepperell won't be teeing up to defend his maiden European title in the second Middle East swing of the year.
> Tiger Woods WD's from APInv with neck strain
> Arnold Palmer Invitational: Betting tips, TV times
> European Tour Pro's defend governing bodies over new rules
> Francesco Molinari signs equipment deal with Callaway
Last week, Kurt Kitayama picked up his second European Tour trophy in just his 11th start on Tour, and heads to Qatar along with Clement Sordet, Fabrizio Zanotti, Jorge Campillo and Maximillian Kieffer, who shared second place in Oman.
The bookies favourite this week though is Thomas Pieters, who made a late run in Muscat to finish sixth, which was his ninth consecutive top 30 on Tour.
Qatar Masters: What you need to know
Doha Golf Club has been the host of the Qatar Masters on 21 separate occasions since the tournament's inception in 1998, which was won by Andrew Coltart. The event boasts several impressive champions, including Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Ernie Els, Retief Goosen, Sergio Garcia and Branden Grace.
The course itself was designed by Peter Harradine and was one of the first all-grass courses to be built in the Middle East when it was created in 1997.
In addition to the tricky test of rough, sand, rocks and trees, one of the biggest challenges players will face are the eight, strategically placed lakes - six of which feature on the final six holes of the course.
Course: Doha Golf Club | Par 72, 7,400 yards
Date: March 7-10
Defending Champion: Eddie Pepperell
Race to Dubai Points: 2750
Prize Fund: $1,750,000
Qatar Masters: Betting Tips
Thomas Pieters: 10/1
Pieters finished with a one-under 71 in Qatar to get his first top 10 of the year, but the three time European Tour winner has been one of the most consistent of late, having finished inside the top 30 in each of his last nine starts. Didn't play in Qatar last year. Ranks 9th for birdie average, 18th for SG: Off the tee, 20h for SG: Tee to green and 24th for Scoring average this season.
Jordan Smith: 20/1
Smith finished T12 last week in Oman, and although he missed the cut in Qatar last year, it was his third top 15 in his last six starts and was T6 here in 2017, which is why the bookies have him as the second favourite this week. Ranks 31st for GIR.
Tom Lewis: 25/1
Lewis had a string of three top 10s in his last four starts before two . Ranks 17th for scoring average, 22nd for SG: Approach the green, 31st for SG: tee to green and 37th for GIR. Best finish of T37 in Qatar.
Fabrizio Zanotti: 30/1
A four-putt on the 16th was one of three double-bogeys that left the 54-hole leader one shot shy of a play-off with Kurt Kitayama, and his runner-up finish came after a string of four consecutive top 30s. Ranks 12th for SG: Tee to green, 15th for SG: Approach the green and 30th for Scoring average. Was T45 in Qatar last year, has a best finish of T22.
Mike Lorenzo-Vera: 30/1
Still searching for his maiden European Tour title, but Lorenzo-Vera has gone T10-T4 in his last two starts in Qatar and has gone T27-T13 in his last two starts on Tour.
Clement Sordet: 33/1
Sordet gave up hopes of victory when he three-putted himself in to second place on the 72nd hole in Oman, but it was his second top 10 in his last three starts, so he's definitely one to watch. Another player to MC last year but recent form suggests another good week. Ranks 30th for GIR, 47th for scoring average.
Victor Dubuisson: 33/1
Dubuisson returned in November after a lengthy spell away with injury, and has since posted back-to-back top 15s in his last two starts. Pepperell was 2nd for driving accuracy on his way to a victory in Qatar last year, and given that Dubuisson is currently ranked 19th for driver accuracy and 22nd for SG: Off the tee on the European Tour, we think he could do well here. T9 in his last start here, back in 2013.
Aaron Rai: 40/1
Rai claimed the Hong Kong Open at the end of the year, and despite a rocky start, he was T19 last year and his stats are worth paying attention to. Ranks 8th for scoring average, 12th for GIR and 25th for SG: Putting
Kurt Kitayama: 50/1
It might be unlikely that Kitayama goes back-to-back for victory, but he showed he can perform well in the wind... and it's hard to rule out anyone who has won two European Tour titles in 11 starts.