European Tour: British Masters Preview

Golfer admires his shot

We take a look at the British Masters set to take place at the picturesque Old Course at Walton Heath between 11 October and 14 October.

British Masters | 11 October - 14 October | Walton Heath (Old Course), Surrey

Four of Europe’s successful Ryder Cup alumni will be in attendance this week, certainly adding some gloss to a competitive field taking part at Walton Heath. Justin Rose will be assuming hosting duties at this recently resurrected event. The British Masters was first staged in 1946 and was known as the Dunlop Masters. The event disappeared off the roster after Fernandez Castano won at the Belfrey in 2008. Ian Poulter hosted the event at Woburn when it was reintroduced in 2015. Luke Donald and Lee Westwood hosted the last two editions, and in that tradition, another former World Number One golfer will host this week. Rose lost that ranking to Dustin Johnson at East Lake, though the ten million dollar bonus for being crowned the FedEx Cup champion would have alleviated the sting somewhat.

Walton Heath was designed by Herbert Fowler all the way back in 1904. The Old Course is highly regarded and has placed inside the world’s top 100 courses since the inception of that accolade in 1938. It is an exposed, flat, heathland-style course that has a definite links feel to it. The bunkers are extremely penal while the greens are larger and quick. This venue hosted the 1981 Ryder Cup and the European Open on five occasions. It hosted the Senior Open as recently as 2011. From those stats it is evident that accuracy is much more important around this course than brute power.

Justin Rose heads into this event as the favourite following a brilliant end to the season in the States. One would think that this course is ideally suited to the metronomic charm that Molinari exhibits. Fresh off of becoming the first Italian to win a major and the first European player to claim all five points at a Ryder Cup, Molinari will be looking for one final kick towards claiming that Race to Dubai prize. Tommy Fleetwood will be feeling a tad sore for not following through last week while Thorbjorn Olesen completes the Ryder Cup quintet. Lucas Bjerregaard will be looking to add to his Alfred Dunhill Links crown and once again scupper English hopes.

Past Winners
2017: Paul Dunne (-20)
2016: Alex Noren (-18)
2015: Matthew Fitzpatrick (-15)

To Win Outright:
Justin Rose 7/1 | Francisco Molinari 9/1 | Tommy Fleetwood 10/1 | Matthew Fitzpatrick 22/1 | Lucas Bjerregaard 25/1

Value Bets

Lee Westwood- To Win 45/1, To Place 19/2
The former World Number One is far from a perennial contender these days, though last year’s host has picked up some encouraging results in recent times. He picked up a top five in a star-studded Italian Open field before going on to lose in a playoff at the Made in Denmark event. A Ryder Cup winning vice-captain, Westwood could draw from that positive juju without having to deal with the physical aftereffects of actually participating. He also enjoys a good record in this event, finishing third in 2016 before claiming a credible top 15 finish last year.

Padraig Harrington- To Win 60/1, To Place 13/1
Padraig Harrington is perhaps the most talked about player on the European Tour- though that has little to do with his reinvigorated form. A vice-captain on the successful Ryder Cup winning side, Harrington is widely tipped to be the next Ryder Cup captain. Add to that his recent form and you will get some impression of what a whirlwind few weeks it has been for Harrington. He has three top seven finishes in his last four starts. He has been impressive after returning from a dismal season in America where he lost his playing rights. Harrington should thrive in the heathland set-up and is always a factor in links-style conditions.

Brandon Stone- To Win 60/1, To Place 13/1
Stone looks like great value at these odds this week. The South African almost pipped Oliver Fisher to the post in shooting the European Tour’s first 59 with that marvellous final round of 60 at the Scottish Open earlier this year. He claimed that title before claiming his best finish yet in a major, landing in an excellent tie for 12th at Bellerive. He then took a five-week break, which is probably the reason for such long odds this week. He returned with a top 10 on the Sunshine Tour before a poor finish denied him a top 10 at the Alfred Dunhill Links. Furthermore, Walton Heath is where Stone secured his position for last year’s US Open at Erin Hills, coming through a gruelling qualifying campaign.

The Man to Beat- Lucas Bjerregaard- To Win 25/1, To Place 11/2
There is a tendency to scoff at opting for a back-to-back win, with fears of that all too familiar post-victory hangover a real issue. In Bjerregaard’s case, however, last week’s victory at the Dunhill Links was just the exclamation mark in a brilliant run of results. The Dane’s recent results read as follows: he finished in a tie for eighth at the Czech Masters, managed a solo sixth at the Made in Denmark event, he was solo second in Switzerland and he managed to squeak a top 29 at the Portugal Masters. Bjerregaard clearly will appreciate this links-feeling course. He also managed a tie for eighth at Close House last year.

Written by Damien Kayat for

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