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Qatar Masters to go ahead as planned

Despite more overnight withdrawals this week's European golf tour event in Qatar will still have a full field of 150 players.

Among them will be Mansfield's Greg Owen, who on Thursday spoke out about the decision to go ahead with the tournament in a country so close to Iraq.

Nearly 50 players have pulled out, including Darren Clarke, Lee Westwood, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo and former winners Paul Lawrie and Andrew Coltart. Defending champion Adam Scott will not be appearing either.

But Owen said: "I've spoken to a few more people now and have decided to go. You hear so many rumours, but I've had my mind put at rest more."

Three days earlier he had commented: "I have an eight-month-old baby and I want to see her grow up. It seems crazy that we would take a risk for one tournament and I would rather see the tour cancel it."

The event is being played on the outskirts of Doha, the capital of Qatar and the command centre for the American military in the region.

The tour's executive director Ken Schofield visited Doha on Thursday and issued a statement saying: "All preparations including golf course, accommodation and transportation are complete and secure. Additional contingencies are in place should eventualities require."

The statement also included a quote from tournament president Brigadier Hassan. "We have invited 150 participants to Qatar and as over the past five years will take good care of everyone," he commented. "The local and expatriate community are eager to support the tournament."

Three members of last September's winning Ryder Cup team - Padraig Harrington, Paul McGinley and Phillip Price - are making the trip and Schofield added: "A third of our membership are willing to play if called on as reserves.

"All players who withdraw are immediately replaced."

The field now contains some players who just missed out on qualifying for the circuit via the Challenge Tour last season.


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