Karlsson wins Qatar Masters to end drought
Doha, Qatar (Sports Network) - Sweden's Robert Karlsson fired a seven-under 65
on Sunday to capture the Qatar Masters and end a 15-month winless drought.
The former European Tour No. 1 made four birdies during a seven-hole stretch
in the middle of his round to take the lead. He birdied his last two holes to
seal his first win since October 5, 2008.
More than ending his victory drought, Karlsson proved he is finally past the
eye injury that left him with blurry vision and forced him to miss four months
in the middle of last season.
"I am really happy to be back playing well," Karlsson said. "It is the first
time I have played really well for a long time and the way I finished off
today was very satisfying."
Karlsson finished at 15-under 273 and beat 2009 champion Alvaro Quiros (67) by
three shots. Karlsson battled reigning European No. 1 Lee Westwood for much of
the back nine, but his playing partner in the final round couldn't keep up.
Westwood (70) cooled off after making four birdies in a five-hole stretch to
get within one shot of the lead. He bogeyed the 16th and tied Brett Rumford
(69) for third place at 11-under 277.
It was the end of a frustrating weekend for the reigning European No. 1.
Westwood cracked the face of his trusted driver on the 11th hole Saturday and
failed to find a suitable replacement, leaving the 36-year-old Englishman with
a gaping hole in his game.
He played virtually the entire back nine with a three-wood on Sunday, a
difficult task on the long Doha course. Every time Westwood pulled his driver,
he hit it into the left rough.
"Long, straight driving is obviously one of my strengths. You take somebody's
strength away from them and it's going to be tough to compete," said Westwood.
Karlsson, 40, collected his 10th victory and first since his two-win season in
2008, when he was the first Swede ever to finish No. 1 on the money list.
Among other things, last year's eye injury forced him to miss the final three
majors of the season.
Seeing clearly again, Karlsson overcame a two-shot deficit after the third
round with a flawless 18 holes that produced the lowest score of the
He picked up three shots on the front nine, including back-to-back birdies at
the seventh and eighth holes that tied him with Bradley Dredge for the lead.
Karlsson then birdied the 11th hole to move into first place by himself.
Although he would never relinquish his spot atop the leaderboard, Karlsson's
win was anything but certain with Westwood in the mix.
Four Westwood birdies between the 10th and 14th holes kept Karlsson on his
toes. Westwood's birdie at the 13th moved him within a shot, while both
players birdied the 14th to distance themselves from the field.
Westwood, however, went on to bogey the 16th hole to fall two strokes behind
and was eventually passed by Quiros for second place.
Karlsson finished strong, posting birdies at his last two holes to win by
three shots -- a margin that would have seemed impossible only an hour before.
"It is fantastic to be back," said Karlsson.
Calling Karlsson's win "deserved," Westwood said: "He is what you would regard
as a regular winner on the European Tour, so he's probably back where he
NOTES: Third round co-leaders Dredge and Paul Casey both closed with 74s to
fall into a tie for fifth place with Oliver Wilson (71) at eight-under
280...Thomas Bjorn (68) finished alone at 281...2007 champion Retief Goosen
(72) and Camilo Villegas (70) led a large group at 282...Sergio Garcia never
broke 70 and finished 12 shots back in a tie for 24th place...Next week is the
Dubai Desert Classic, where Rory McIlroy won last year.