The British Masters was first staged in 1946, when initially referred to as the Dunlop Masters. There was no version in 1984 and the occasion was misplaced from the schedule altogether after Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano gained at this week’s venue, the Belfry, in 2008 however with the assistance of Sky Sports, it made a profitable and very welcome return to the schedule in 2015 when Ian Poulter hosted the occasion at Woburn.
Since then, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood (twice), Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood have all hosted and this yr it is the flip of the 2016 US Masters winner – Danny Willett.
With the USPGA Championship looming giant, the British Masters begins on Wednesday to offer gamers concerned within the yr’s second main an additional day to journey so fon’t get caught out by the early begin.
The Belfry, Wishaw, Warwickshire, England
Par 72 – 7, 255 yards
Stroke Index at 2020 UK Championship – 72.4
After a break of 12 years, having final hosted this occasion in 2008, the Belfry made a welcome return to the European Tour final yr when it hosted the one-off UK Championship – gained in extra-time by Rasmus Hojgaard.
The Belfry hosted this occasion for 3 years in-a-row between 2006 and 2008 and it additionally hosted the final 4 editions of the now defunct Benson & Hedges International between 2000 and 2003, in addition to 4 editions of the Ryder Cup.
The Belfry is a comparatively flat, principally tree-lined course, with some slender fairways. Water is in play on seven holes – most noticeably on the brief drivable par 4 tenth which final yr averaged 3.86.
The majority of the Poa Annua greens are pretty small and the larger ones have tiers and undulations, inserting a premium on lengthy placing and scrambling.
Last Eight Winners on the Belfry
2000 B&H International – Jose Maria Olazabal -13
2001 B&H International – Henrik Stenson -13
2002 B&H International – Angel Cabrera -10
2003 B&H International – Paul Casey -11
2006 British Masters – Johan Edfors -11
2007 British Masters – Lee Westwood -15
2008 British Masters – Gonzalo Fernandez Castano -12 (playoff)
2020 UK Championship – Rasmus Hojgaard -14 (playoff)
Live on Sky Sports all 4 days, beginning at 13:30 on Wednesday
Last Six Tournament Winners with Pre-event Exchange Prices
2020 – Renato Paratore -18 70.069/1
2019 – Marcus Kinhult -16 370.0369/1
2018 – Eddie Pepperell -9 42.041/1
2017 – Paul Dunne -20 70.069/1
2016 – Alex Noren -18 23.022/1
2015 – Matthew Fitzpatrick -15 40.039/1
What Will it Take to Win the British Masters?
I could not discover any stats for the 2001 and 2002 editions of the Benson & Hedges International however there are sufficient clues from the six occasions staged right here this century to counsel accuracy is essential – particularly on method.
The two playoff protagonists on the UK Championship final yr, Rasmus Hojgaard and Justin Walters, ranked tied sixth for Greens In Regulation and in behind them, Martin Kaymer, who completed tied third, ranked second for GIR, with Craig Howie (T5) and Calum Hill (T9), rating fourth and fifth for that stat.
When Lee Westwood edged out Ian Poulter on this occasion in 2007, the pair ranked second and first for Greens In Regulation and Jose Maria Olazabal and Paul Casey each topped the GIR stats once they gained right here.
The worst any of the six ranked for Driving Distance was twenty eighth (Olazabal), though ninth (Hojgaard and Casey) was the best any of them ranked and that appears barely extra vital than accuracy from the tee if the winners’ stats may be believed.
All Lee Westwood’s stats had been actually good. In addition to rating second for GIR, he additionally ranked third for Driving Accuracy and first for Scrambling however when Johan Edfors gained right here he ranked solely 54th for DA and forty fifth for Scrambling. The first two residence final yr ranked ninth and tenth for Driving Distance and solely fortieth and twenty fifth for Driving Accuracy and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano missed 40% of the fairways – rating thirty first for DA. He did rank extremely for Scrambling although (fourth) and the worst any of the winners (with stats) ranked for Putting Average was eleventh.
Hojgaard placing notably effectively final yr, rating first for Putting Average, however the top-six all did. The worst any of the top-five and ties ranked for PA was 14th.
Is There an Angle In?
Looking on the checklist of Belfry winners, the very first thing to note is what a stellar checklist it’s. The three B&H winners have all gained main championships and each Lee Westwood and Paul Casey’s names will pop up in any dialogue surrounding the most effective gamers which can be but to win one.
Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano hasn’t gained a significant, in truth the closest he ever got here was tenth within the 2013 US Open, however he is gained seven occasions on the European Tour and Johan Edfors was very a lot the person to beat again in 2006. He’s solely ever gained three European Tour occasions however all three had been between March and July in 2006, so regardless that that pair cannot be described as out of the highest drawer, they’re a number of winners who had been in nice type. Fernando-Castano’s win right here was his fourth title in 4 consecutive seasons and final yr’s UK Championship winner, Hojgaard, seems to have an extremely excessive ceiling given he is already gained twice and he is nonetheless solely 20!
A reasonably sluggish begin can positively be overcome on the Belfry.
Having gone off at round 22.021/1, Hojgaard was matched at a excessive of 200.0199/1 in-running final yr after a gap 73 had seen him path by 9 and he was nonetheless seven again at midway and 5 adrift by means of 54 holes. His seven-under-par 65 in spherical 4 was his better of the week and the joint-best of the day.
Jose Maria Olazabal began slowly right here in 2000, with a gap spherical of 75 that noticed him sit tied for twenty fifth and six off the lead, Paul Casey and Lee Westwood each trailed by 5 after spherical one once they gained right here and Fernandez-Castano was 4 adrift and tied for twenty fourth after the opening spherical in 2008.
Casey was tied for the lead after three rounds in 2006 and Henrik Stenson gained wire-to-wire however 5 of the final six course winners got here from behind, trailing by two, three, three, 4 and 5 strokes, so it could’t be described as frontrunners course.
The UK Championship produced a dramatic finale with Martin Kaymer buying and selling at a low of 1.341/3 and Walters touching even cash, so this seems a fantastic monitor for Sunday buying and selling and taking over the leaders.
After his fairly good debut within the US Masters the place he completed twelfth and ranked second for Putting Average, and an comprehensible missed reduce the week after within the RBC Heritage, Robert Macintyre arrives on the Belfry well-rested and fairly rightly well-respected out there.
He’s by no means performed the Belfry and that is solely he is fifth look in England however he completed second within the British Masters in 2019 at Hillside. Still enhancing, Macintyre is the proper favorite and he is the one all of them need to beat if his irons are dialled in.
As already talked about, Martin Kaymer traded at odds-on right here final yr when ending third and he too arrives recent having swerved the Canary Islands Swing.
The two-time main winner was in high-quality fettle when final sighted, ending third within the Austrian Open, however pretty much as good as that outcome seems on paper, it was one more match wherein he didn’t get throughout the road. Trading at a low of 1.981/1 through the third spherical, he started the ultimate spherical tied for the lead with Alejandro Canizares, however he performed his first three holes in spherical 4 in three-over-par and he was quickly out of the hunt. He completed strongly to complete third however he is one to be very cautious of in-contention now and for that purpose alone he seems too brief.
Bernd Wiesberger is one other to reach effectively rested having not performed since ending fortieth within the US Masters. He was a quick ending fifth at Belfry within the UK Championship so we all know he likes the venue however will he putt effectively sufficient to contend. His stats in that division have not been nice for some time, barring the respectable week, and I’m joyful to go away him out.
Matt Cooper’s fancy, Sam Horsfield, ticks all the precise containers.
He’s enjoying the Belfry for the primary time however he gained the English Open final summer season on the Forest of Arden and though he missed the reduce final day trip on the Valspar Championship on the PGA Tour, he is been in high-quality fettle of late, discovering loads of greens and placing properly. He has an enormous likelihood however at a barely greater worth, I most well-liked the course winner, Rasmus Hojgaard…
This is not a significantly stronger subject than the one which lined-up right here in August so I used to be somewhat shocked to see Hojgaard buying and selling at an even bigger worth than he opened up at then. The aforementioned Wiesberger is shorter than he went off at in August and that does not make an terrible lot of sense.
Rasmus is not tearing up bushes at current however he isn’t in terrible type both. He could have missed the reduce on the Valspar final day trip however he shot a really respectable bogey-free three-under-par on the ultra-tough again 9 on Friday and previous to that he was a quick ending twelfth in Austria.
Top-tens within the Dubai Desert Classic and Saudi International had been respectable efforts simply 5 and six begins in the past and I believed he was value chancing. And I felt the identical two extra Danes – Thorbjorn Olesen and Jeff Winther…
Olesen has a large cloud hanging over him within the form of a courtroom case that will not be heard till December on the earliest, after he was arrested and charged with sexual assault, being drunk on a aircraft and assault by beating after an alleged incident on a flight from Nashville to London approach again in July 2019.
He was suspended by the European Tour to begin with however with the case being repeatedly put again due the pandemic, he is been again enjoying since July final yr and he is been enjoying very well of late, ending fifth and twelfth on the Canary Islands Swing because of some good iron play and placing.
Olesen had a dozen begins final yr however did not present a lot till he signed off with a thirteenth place within the Golf In Dubai Championship and his seventeenth within the UK Championship her on the Belfry was his finest effort earlier than then and his solely top-20.
My last Danish Delight is Jeff Winther, who’s simply too large to disregard with the Sportsbook at 90/1. He missed the reduce on the Tenerife Open two weeks in the past however that was maybe comprehensible after his close to miss the week earlier than when he completed third behind Garrick Higgo within the Gran Canaria the place he putted brilliantly. He was solely forty seventh right here final yr and I do surprise if he is fairly lengthy sufficient off the tee however the worth is simply too juicy.
I’ll be again tomorrow with the Byron Nelson Championship preview.
*You can comply with me on Twitter @SteveThePunter