Callum Shinkwin will be looking to build on the solid debut he made in last year's Commercial Bank Qatar Masters when he tees it up at Doha GC this week.
It was here 12 months ago, when the Englishman posted rounds of 68-74-70-73 to finish T35, that he offered a little hint that he was about to retain his card at the first time of asking. He went on to record top tens in the Open de France and Scottish Open - a linksy course and a genuine link track - which adds to the impression that he can go well on this blustery layout. Last week's T23 in Abu Dhabi included a third round 65 so the form is bubbling and he might have a useful man on the bag. Veteran Dave McNeilly was due to retire until he got Shinkwin's bag 18 months ago and he has fond memories of the course - he caddied for Alvaro Quiros' during his win in 2009. Shinkwin was T3 in nearby Oman on the Challenge Tour in 2015 with McNeilly advising; 12 months before he had missed the cut at the same venue.
Thomas Detry will continue his European Tour education with a first appearance at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters in Doha GC this week.
The Belgian was fast from the blocks this season, chalking up a T3 at the Alfred Dunhill Championship at Leopard Creek CC, which gives the rookie plenty of breathing space for the early months of the year. A week later he missed the cut in Hong Kong, but a return to the Cape for the BMW South African Open saw him play all four rounds and finish T40. He opted to swerve Abu Dhabi so this start will be his first in the Middle East on the European Tour, but he did play in the region at the back end of last year on the Challenge Tour. His 2016 season on the second tier was notable for him making every single cut, but it is also true that his T60 and T41 in those two desert events were his worst performances.
Romain Langasque will continue his rookie year on the European Tour at the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, hosted by Doha GC this week.
The Frenchman ended his 2016 season misfiring somewhat, as his Challenge Tour performances tailed off, as if once the 2017 European Tour card was confirmed his thoughts had drifted to the future. It is also something of a disappointment that such a promising and well-regarded player failed to earn a win at that level. But he opened the 2017 season with T2 in the World Cup of Golf alongside Victor Dubuisson, a tournament best for a French pairing, and he has progressed through the 2017 schedule in sedate but solid style since then, with T10 at the Australian PGA Championship, T21 in the South African Open and T39 last week in Abu Dhabi when he ranked fifth for Ball-Striking.
Mikko Ilonen was thwarted in extra holes at the 2014 Commercial Bank Qatar Masters; he will want to go one better at the Doha GC this week.
The Finn entered the final round two years ago T6, but a final round 66 matched Sergio Garcia's total and the two headed into a play-off which saw the Spaniard prevail, but it is far from Ilonen only good week in Qatar. That said, his first eight visits were poor, with only four weekends made and a best of T35. But then something clicked and he has since pegged T9-2-MC-T13. If the course vibes are good the form is a bit of an enigma. He opened the season with a MC in Abu Dhabi after closing 2016 with a run of 15-for-16 which included nine top 25s but with a best of only T10 in the Turkish Airlines Open.
2016 four-time winner Alex Noren will look to build on a solid start to the season in Abu Dhabi when he tees it up in the Commercial Bank Qatar Masters at Doha GC.
The Swede is not just coming off four wins in 2016, he's actually a five-time winner in his last 29 starts, a run that began in mid-June 2015 and included four months lost to injury. It's a stunning period and what happens this year will be revealing as two paths suggest themselves. One is that, like Robert Karlsson, he remains a European Tour star; the other that, like Henrik Stenson, he graduates to world class, contending for the majors. In the short term put a tick against his seasonal opener last week in Abu Dhabi; the T13 was his first top 30 there in seven visits. Moreover he possesses a much better record in Doha, with four top 25s include T4 in 2013 and solo ninth in 2015. The ball-striking was excellent last week, if he putts well he can contend again.
Byeong Hun An takes his talents to La Jolla, California, for his debut at this week's Farmers Insurance Open.
An earned enough Non-Member FedExCup Points during the 2015-16 season to earn his TOUR card for this year. With a full schedule ahead of him in 2017, he's easing into it as this week will be just his third start of the season, ranking 169th in the FedExCup standings after a T39 (CIMB) and T63 (WGC-HSBC) during the fall. The youngster has showcased his ability to contend on the European Tour, posting 10 top 10s in 40 starts. It's taking him a little longer to find his groove on the PGA TOUR but the upside remains. Gamers in season-long and dynasty league should be trying to buy low while they still can.
Beau Hossler heads to Torrey Pines for this week's Farmers Insurance Open, his first PGA TOUR start since joining the professional ranks.
The University of Texas standout ended his college career on a sour note when a torn labrum forced him out of the championship match against Oregon. He needed shoulder surgery but announced his intentions to turn pro, anyways. In an attempt to play his way back into competitive form, he pegged it on the Adams Pro Tour in December. In his first start he finished T22 in a one-round shootout but a few days later he won a two-day event (Cypresswood Open - Cypress Course) with an aggregate score of 11-under 133, winning by three strokes. He cracked the field this week with a sponsor's invite. It will be his fifth career start on the PGA TOUR, missing just one cut previously, with a T29 at the 2012 U.S. Open being the highlight. Despite his limited TOUR knowledge, he will know a bit about this week's venue. Hossler won the 2011 Junior World Championships (Boys Division Age 15-17) played at Torrey Pines South Course.
Benjamin Hebert is a six-time winner on the Challenge Tour and will view this week's Commercial Bank Qatar Masters as a possible chance to gain his first European Tour victory.
Hebert's wins on Europe's second tier came in bunches - three in 2011 and three more in 2014 so, if he's working on a three-year cycle of success, 2017 could be his time! The Frenchman missed the cut on his Doha GC debut in 2012 but returned in 2015 to post T10 after closing 68-69-67. Hebert then shot four more sub-par rounds last year to take T20 so it's a course he's comfortable on. There were signs he meant business on the 2017 Race to Dubai when he started out with T4 in the season-opening Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa. He added T36 in Hong Kong and then returned after the Christmas break to deliver T29 in last week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship where he was seventh for greens in regulation but couldn't get the putter to work. He's also been in the top five for GIR in this event for the last two years.