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Tuesday, 20 November, 2018

Sean Crocker can smash his way to Qatar glory

English frontrunners look vulnerable at Doha Golf Club

Hideto Tanihara is the leading Asian at Doha
1 of 1

Sky Sports Golf, 6am Sunday

Story so far
English duo Oliver Fisher and Eddie Pepperell, 175-1 and 70-1 respectively ante-post, are tied for the lead with 18 holes to play in the Qatar Masters at Doha Golf Club.

Fisher closed round three with four consecutive birdies, while Pepperell birdied three of his last six holes, the mild-mannered duo edging clear of the rest of the field.

Fisher can be backed at 13-5 to land a second European Tour title on Sunday. The 29-year-old won the 2011 Czech Open. Pepperell is seeking his European Tour breakthrough at the age of 27, having triumphed on the Challenge Tour in 2012, and is a 15-8 chance going into round four.

Zimbabwe-born American Sean Crocker, a general 66-1 on Wednesday, is alone in third spot, while there are five players tied for fourth, four shots off the pace.

Leaderboard
-16 Oliver Fisher, Eddie Pepperell
-14 Sean Crocker
-12 Marcus Kinhult, Gregory Havret, David Horsey, Andrea Pavan, Lorenzo Gagli
-11 Mike Lorenzo-Vera, Pablo Larrazabal, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, James Morrison, Chris Wood, Joakim Lagergren, Hideto Tanihara

Best prices
15-8 E Pepperell, 13-5 O Fisher, 11-2 S Crocker, 25 D Horsey, 28 M Kinhult, 30 C Wood, 40 A Pavan, G Havret, 45 P Larrazabal, 50 M Lorenzo-Vera, 55 L Gagli, 66 J Lagergren, 80 bar

Final-day advice
Heavy overnight rain is expected in Doha, turning the track into a bombers' paradise, and Sean Crocker will be licking his lips at the prospect of going on the attack.

Crocker, who turned professional in November and has made a superb start to his career, is an ultra-aggressive player who should have perfect conditions to make hay on Sunday. This looks an excellent opportunity for the man in third spot to overhaul a pair of nervous frontrunners and land a maiden European Tour title at the age of 21.

The tee-times have been pushed forward, with further storms expected late-afternoon on Sunday, and Crocker can assert himself over Oliver Fisher and Eddie Pepperell in the final threeball. Soft turf, with only light breezes forecast, should make for a birdiefest, and the Yank raider looks best equipped to card them.

Pepperell, who has just started using a new coach, is not confident with driver in hand. He has surprised himself by contending this week while in the midst of plenty of swing work and admitted that he hit the red wine on Wednesday night such was his frustration with the state of his game.

Pepperell enjoyed some extremely lucky breaks at the start of the back-nine in round three and is probably a false favourite at this stage. His iron-play and putting has been excellent, but if he insists on sticking with his beloved three-wood off the tee in round four, he is likely to be outgunned.

There is no reason why Fisher, who already has a European Tour title to his name, should be behind Pepperell in the betting. Fisher, a long-time pal of Rory McIlroy and expected to become a superstar when greatly impressing as a teenager, has a decent Doha record and enough power for the Sunday challenge. Final-round nerves have been an issue for Fisher, though, who has twice lost a European Tour playoff.

Fisher should arguably be slight favourite, but Crocker is the value from just two shots behind. He has taken impressively to the pro ranks, looks likely to become a champion sooner rather than later, and has a lovely spot on the leaderboard from which to strut his stuff. He has already made two eagles at the 16th this week and one at the 18th, so will relish the closing holes if in with a winning chance on Sunday.

Marcus Kinhult and Chris Wood are dangermen lurking just off the pace, but the stage looks set for Crocker to smash his way on to the Doha honours board. The debutant should only get stronger now he has three competitive rounds under his belt on the layout.

Kinhult is worth backing for his final-round threeball against Gregory Havret and Hideto Tanihara, which is due to tee off at 5.10am UK and Ireland time. Fisher, Pepperell and Crocker are scheduled out at 5.30am.

Outright recommendation
S Crocker
3pts each-way 5-1 general

Threeball recommendation
M Kinhult
2pts 13-8 Sky Bet


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He has taken impressively to the pro ranks, looks likely to become a champion sooner rather than later
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