Qatar Masters golf rescheduled after diplomatic row

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Qatar Masters golf

Bengaluru/Doha, December 1: The diplomatic row in Qatar had already cast its shadow on the 2022 World Cup hosting nation's sporting ambitions with the ensuing Gulf Cup in doubt.

But it looks as though, it is not only football which is suffering at the moment, with golf being the latest casualty.

The Qatar Masters golf tournament which the country has been hosting since 1998 has been rescheduled this year to February from its traditional January window.

Held at the 7,388-yard picturesque Doha Golf Club's par-72 course designed by Peter Harradine, the Qatar Masters, which is the annual flagship event of European Tour is part of a 'Desert Swing' and is usually sandwiched between events in Abu Dhabi and Qatar.

South Korea's Wang Jeung-Hun is the defending champion, having won the 20th edition after prevailing in a thrilling three-way play-off.

But with Gulf neighbours like the UAE and Saudi Arabia severing its ties with Qatar over the country's alleged support for terrorism, travel between Middle East countries has become a tedious exercise.

In this background, the European Tour decided to change the 2018 schedule and shifted Qatar Masters to February so that the players will not have to take a detour from Abu Dhabi to Doha and then to Dubai.

As per the revised European Tour schedule, the Abu Dhabi event starts on January 21 and will be followed by the one in Dubai on January 28.

The players then head to Malaysia (February 4) and Australia (February 11) before they reach Oman (February 18), which is a new addition to the calendar.

Since Oman is not part of the 'Gulf boycotting' nations, players then head to Qatar (February 25) and from there to Mexico (March 4).

There are already concerns regarding the future of Qatar Masters with its contract with European Tour ending next year.

Qatar, who are known to invest heavily in sports, of late have turned to austerity because of receding oil prices and the economic sanctions by the Gulf neighbours.

Last year, Tour of Qatar, an annual UCI-cycling event was scrapped from the calendar following difficulty in getting a title sponsor.

The Ladies European Tour event which was supposed to held in 2017 was also cancelled. There are strong indications that Qatar Masters golf could be the next.

These are certainly not good times for Qatar as a sporting nation....

Story first published: Friday, December 1, 2017, 13:15 [IST]
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