Aberdeen’s Paul Lawrie is relishing his return to the Qatar Masters.
The 49-year-old is a two-time winner of the event, having triumphed in 1999 and 2012.
His success in 1999 was the catalyst for the greatest victory of his career – the Open championship at Carnoustie later that year.
Coincidentally, when Lawrie won the event in 1999, his playing partner for the final round was Jean van de Velde – the man he defeated in a play-off to win the Claret Jug in 1999.
The Frenchman finished tied fifth in the 1999 edition of the Qatar Masters after a closing 73, while Lawrie won his first European Tour title by seven strokes.
Thirteen years later, Lawrie also recorded another convincing four-shot victory with former world number one Jason Day and Sweden’s Peter Hanson sharing second spot.
Lawrie, one of 10 Scots in the field this week, said: “In 1999, it started off here. I had a long lay-off in the winter with a knee injury and didn’t play an awful lot of golf.
“This was my second event of the year, I missed the cut the week before, got here early and did a lot of work over the weekend.
“I putted really nicely, played lovely, and it gave me the confidence to do well that summer.
“It’s amazing how it was Jean Van de Velde in the final round here as well as Carnoustie, people forget that. It was a great week.”
A rejuvenated Chris Wood is targeting a second Qatar Masters title as he looks to belatedly launch his bid for a Ryder Cup return.
Wood ended last season in poor form, finishing 68th out of 72 in the Nedbank Golf Challenge and 57th out of 60 in the DP World Tour championship, although he was sick on the course during the final round in Dubai.
This year got off to an even worse start with three consecutive missed cuts before last week’s second place behind good friend Joost Luiten in Oman proved there was some light at the end of the tunnel. He said: “It’s been a rough few months, even going back into last season, really.
“I’ve not felt like I’ve played well for a while, so to find some form and contend again is good. It gets back all the feelings that you want, so there’s no doubt it’s given me a big bit of confidence heading into the rest of the year.
“It’s a nice time to put in a bit of a result the week before you come back to somewhere you’ve won.”