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Nick Dougherty returns to action at favourite event

Former champion Nick Dougherty returns to the Singapore Masters this week having fully recovered from a nasty injury he sustained last month.

The 24-year-old Briton was feeling ill with a virus during the Dubai Desert Classic when he passed out in his hotel bathroom and banged his head.

"I staggered out and my girlfriend Claire took one look at the wound and burst into tears," Dougherty told the European Tour's official Web site.

"The cut went right down to the skull and I needed eight stitches. Hopefully it might have knocked some sense into me."

Dougherty normally plays sensibly in Singapore, seizing the title in 2005 and finishing one stroke behind home favourite Mardan Mamat last year.

Mamat became the first Singaporean to win on the tour when he held off the Englishman at the Laguna National Golf and Country Club.

This week the tournament will be played at two courses, the traditional Masters layout and the less familiar Classic course.

The 39-year-old Mamat said the Classic layout would be especially tricky.

"I've been practising on the Classic and some of the holes there play longer and it's a good test," he said.

"From the back tees it is quite long. It tends to get windy as well."

Mamat said his ball-striking was not the best last year and sheer willpower pulled him through.

"I was fully focused on myself, did my own thing and didn't bother about the things around me," he said.

"My concentration was very good as I didn't strike the ball well, especially the last four holes. It is harder to win a tournament at home and it was harder as well to lead from the first round."

Joining Mamat and Dougherty in the race for the first prize of 139,075 euros ($182,500) will be European Ryder Cup stalwarts David Howell and Lee Westwood.

South African Anton Haig, winner of the Johnnie Walker Classic in Thailand on Sunday, also chases back-to-back titles.

 

March 8, 2007




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