Qatar Masters: Chris Wood bids to make history in Doha

Chris Wood

England's Chris Wood launches his bid to become the first player to mount a successful defence of the Qatar Masters in Doha on Wednesday.

The 26-year-old from Bristol clinched his first European Tour title when he won the tournament last year with an eagle at the final hole.

Spaniard Sergio Garcia and South Africa's George Coetzee, who finished joint second, are again in the field.

Other contenders include Luke Donald and US PGA champion Jason Dufner.

Wood, winner of the Thailand Open in August 2012, will partner Miguel Angel Jimenez and Darren Clarke in the first two rounds.

Former world number one Donald is in the group behind with Dufner and Henrik Stenson - who in 2013 became the first man to win the Race to Dubai and FedEx Cup in the same year.

Wood's return to Doha Golf Club will be tinged with sadness following the recent death of his grandfather.

"It's been pretty tough with my grandfather passing away," Wood said at the weekend as he competed in the Abu Dhabi Championship. "I was pretty close to him so it's been a tough week. He was pretty proud of me."

He added: "It has come round so fast. It's one of our best events on tour, the course suits me but it's going to be a new experience for me defending a title."

Dufner is back for the second year in succession and is looking to build on his share of ninth place 12 months ago.

"I'm excited to be back," the American Ryder Cup player said. "I'm going to try to play a little more internationally this year and this fits nicely into my schedule.

"I think I was one under the first two days last year and played a little better over the weekend so hopefully we can pick up where I did last year and get off to a good start."

European number one Stenson suffered a rare missed cut in Abu Dhabi after his preparations were interrupted by a trip to Sweden to collect two awards.

However, he said: "I've had a few more days to practise and play and it feels like I am shaking a bit of the rust off and we're getting it back slowly and surely."

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