Laid low by a serious eye injury for four months last year, Robert Karlsson, the European Tour's loftiest player at 6'5”, towered head and shoulders over the opposition once again at Doha Golf Club yesterday.
Karlsson (40) the first Swede to win Europe's Order of Merit in 2008, surprised even himself with the quality of his golf as he posted a superlative closing 65, the low round of the week at the Commercialbank Qatar Masters, to beat defending champion Alvaro Quiros by three strokes.
Graeme McDowell relied on caddie Ken Comboy to help keep a tight rein on his temper during a few fraught moments in Qatar. The Portrush man heads for this week's Dubai Desert Classic with high hopes after a closing 71 lifted him into a share of 14th on five-under (worth €24,421).
“I'm a lot more positive than I was coming into this week,” said McDowell, who'd missed the cut in Abu Dhabi.
“I was a bit lost with my game and I was down on myself early doors but, all in all, I played very well this week.
“I shot one-under for the weekend, which was disappointing, but I'd only two or three bad holes, that's all.
“I hit plenty of good shots and just needed to see a few more putts go in the hole.
“One of my problems is I get a little frustrated very quickly with myself. You've got to be able to cut yourself a little slack out here,” said McDowell, explaining how Comboy helps in prickly situations.
“Kenny knows me well enough to be able to call me names when I make an idiot of myself,” McDowell grinned. “Sometimes I have to take a step back, analyse and see what's going on. I feel I can compete next week and that's the ticket.”
Before wrapping up his tenth European Tour victory, Karlsson acted as Good Samaritan on his way to the golf course yesterday when he ‘rescued' Oliver Wilson at the roadside after the Englishman had been involved in an ugly car smash. Wilson was bruised and winded but paid tribute to his seatbelt for sparing him serious injury when the BMW 745 courtesy car in which he was being ferried to the course piled into the back of a van.
“I think the courtesy car driver was excited to get his hands on a nice BMW and took off a bit quick,” said Wilson. “I was just looking at my phone and he suddenly slammed on the brakes. By the time I looked up, all I could see was this white transit van halfway up the bonnet.
“We got into him quite hard,” he added. “I just got a bit winded but if I hadn't been wearing my seatbelt, it would have been quite messy. I went to have some physio and it seems everything's cool.”
Karlsson arrived upon the scene shortly after the accident. “We just stopped to see if everyone was okay and Oliver stepped out. So I just said: ‘Get in. Let's go',” said the Swede.