Ice-cool Karlsson triumphs in Qatar

Robert Karlsson shrugged away last year’s blurred eyesight troubles to win the CommercialBank Qatar Masters going away.

Robert Karlsson completed a stunning comeback from a career threatening eye injury with a resounding victory at the Commercialbank Qatar Masters on Sunday.
The big Swede closed with a bogey-free, best-of-the-week, seven-under 65 for a 15-under total that gave him a three-shot victory over Alvaro Quiros, the defending champion.
Lee Westwood, who was neck and neck with Karlsson at one stage during this final round-thriller at the tough Doha golf club, tied for third on 11 under with Australian Brett Rumford, the first round leader, but overnight leaders Paul Casey and fellow Brit Bradley Dredge both shot disappointing 74s to finish a further shot back in joint fifth place.
After becoming the first Swedish player to be named European number one in 2008, Karlsson was sidelined for four months last year suffering from blurred vision caused by fluid behind the retina in his left eye.
But at Doha Golf Club the 40-year-old was back to the form which saw him win twice in 2008 to ensure a second successive Ryder Cup appearance.
Karlsson produced the round of the week with some faultless, highly-polished finshing golf that in the end left his early challengers wallowing in his wake.
“The focus this year was to come back and start to put together good rounds and a then a string of good rounds and then you never know what’s going to happen,” said Karlsson, following his 10th career title.
“That’s the thing I am most happy with. It’s not really the win, it’s fantastic to win, but to play four really good rounds together, that’s the most satisfying.”
Karlsson had produced hints he was returning to form at the end of last year after losing in a play-off in Japan before claiming a second-placed finish alongside Henrik Stenson at the World Cup in China.
“It has surprised me a little bit,” he added.
“Especially the way I played during the final round.
“But if you go out and shoot a 65 in the last day of a tournament after being a couple behind, usually you will have a good chance and obviously it was my day.”
After beginning the day two shots adrift, Karlsson shared a one-shot lead with Dredge at the turn, but as the Welshman’s challenge faltered, Westwood mounted a late bid with a run of four birdies in five holes.
The European number one trailed his playing partner by one shot with four holes to play, but the world number four was becoming increasingly frustrated with a new driver after cracking the face of his previous club during the third round.
And Westwood’s challenge came to an abrupt halt with a three-putt bogey with two holes to play before Karlsson ensured his first victory since the 2008 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship with back-to-back birdies.
Big-hitting Spaniard Alvaro Quiros took advantage of Westwood’s demise with a hat-trick of late birdies to claim second in an admirable title defence.
“I played very good and I had my chances,” he said.
“The wind on Thursday put me out a little bit, but I chipped in two times and holed a very long putt in my final round so I have to be thankful.”
Westwood was forced to settle for a tie for third a further shot off the pace alongside Australia’s Brett Rumford (69) after a final round 70 handed him a 12th top-10 finish from his last 15 outings.
“It’s hard to imagine anything else going wrong this week, so 11 under is an unbelievable score,” said Westwood.
“I had to play virtually all the back nine with a three wood. You can’t play this course out of the rough and when I pulled the driver out it went in the left rough. And it is tough to play it with a three wood because it’s such a long course.
“Long, straight driving is one of my strengths and if you take someone’s strengths away from them it is going to very difficult to compete.”
Oliver Wilson recovered from being involved in a minor car crash on the way to the course to card a one under 71 to claim fifth at eight-under-par alongside joint overnight leaders Dredge (74) and Casey (74).