x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Swede regains his focus to finish three clear of Quiros

"Glad to be back" was the overriding message from an elated Robert Karlsson after his impressive three-stroke triumph in Qatar.

DOHA // "Glad to be back" was the overriding message from an elated Robert Karlsson after his impressive three-stroke triumph yesterday helped to erase painful memories of a frustrating 2009 season when problems with his vision cut him off in his prime. Karlsson was expected to kick on from his accolade of winning the European Tour's Order of Merit at the end of 2008 but was prevented from doing so by fluid behind his left retina which made it an ordeal even to hit a ball during the latter half of the campaign.

"It's fantastic to get another win after what I have been through," said Karlsson, who spoke about feeling dispirited when he initially failed to recapture his previous form on his belated return to action. "It's hard not to get down on yourself when you don't really know where you are with your recovery programme. When I started playing again I played poorly which was hard for me to take. I felt it was worse than when I had the eye problem."

The contrast between that November struggle and this Doha masterclass was remarkable. A course that had given problems to most of Europe's elite over the previous three days was eventually tamed by the Swede who posted the best score of the tournament when it really mattered. "If you go out and shoot 65 on the last day when you are a couple behind then obviously you are going to have really good chance, this was clearly my day," he said.

Karlsson, who collected ?300,000 (Dh1.5m) for his efforts which makes him a serious early contender to win the second edition of the Race to Dubai, admitted to surpassing his Doha expectations. "I would have been very happy with a top-20 finish," he added. wjohnson@thenational.ae