One of the biggest weeks in UK golf is upon us as we welcome the 3rd addition of the reformed British Masters.
Sky Sports have been the title supporters of the renewals and brilliantly introduced the idea that different British golfers will ‘host’ the event each year.
In 2015 Ian Poulter brought us to his home club, Woburn, last year Luke Donald played host at The Grove and in 2017 it’s the turn of Lee Westwood at Close House GC.
This is a new track for Tour players and punters alike having only opened in 2011 with Westwood helping in the design and shaping alongside legendary architect Harry Colt. It’s in the top 100 for UK & Ireland courses and is honestly a stunning tree-lined beauty near Newcastle, carved out between the banks of the River Tyne and Hadrian’s Wall.
The par 71 measures in at a modest 6,906 yards, which is nothing by today’s standards but the test, will certainly be tee to green. There’s a couple of very tough par 3’s and it’ll take tactical play to find fairways and greens, especially on the back 9.
That being said there are holes the longer hitters will chance their arms and have short wedges in but if you are too wayward you will find penal links-style rough and strategically placed fairway bunkers. There may be a line in if you look back at the 2015 ISPS Handa PGA Seniors which was played here and having worked there ourselves, trust us it’s ridiculously hilly – some rather tough undulations across the track…
Peter Fowler won that event and he is someone who hits it a bit further in the seniors bracket but the rest of the top placers were cracking iron players.
In terms of the field we have a cracking line-up with McIlroy, Sergio, Poulter, Noren and obviously Westwood all in attendance, so it promises to be a cracker.
⛳ British Masters Tips ⛳
Westwood will probably headline a lot of peoples betting this week but the constant media commitments he’ll have will surely cause too much of a drain so it’s another Englishman for us.
Eddie Pepperell has suddenly entered a fine run of form with 3 top 5’s in a row and whilst that seems obvious to then back him, it’s his all-round game that we really like. His tee-to-green prowess should suit the track perfectly.
The last two outings have been on shorter, tighter courses and he’s impressed on links style challenges, T8’s in Sweden and Ireland (a T2 in Ireland in 2015 as well.) But we also look back to that fine T16 at the US Open where he showed he has the class once he puts it all together, so no reason why we can’t have an English winner in Eddie this week.
Victor Dubuisson is one of those players who, as a punter, you just have to keep your eye on. He’s without doubt one of the finest players on Tour but there’s times he looks (and plays!) like he just doesn’t care. But last week there seemed to be a little sparkle back. He looked fitter and seemed to be enjoying his game again and that resulted in a T12 finish.
From what we saw he was attacking pins and delving into the stats backs that up – he was inside the top 7 for driving accuracy everyday and top 10 for GIR on the final 3 days. Coupled with the fact he’s not the shortest hitter either, it could make for a devastating combination.
As the commentators also mentioned in Portual, Dubuisson is one of those players that can go and dominate an event from seemingly nowhere. His last win in 2015 came after no top 10 in 15 weeks and his first win in 2013 he’d only had 1 top 10 in 9 events…
Another Englishman for us to get behind. Chris Paisley is one of those bets that just tick too many boxes. He’s in decent form with a couple of top 10’s and an encouraging T12 last week where he shot a superb -6 on the second day to give him a sniff going into the weekend.
He’s one of the best putters on Tour, which always helps, but it’s the fact he is a local lad to Close House that intrigues us. Not many will be hugely knowledgeable on the course but having grown up and now living just a 20-minute drive away, we’re positive Paisley would’ve got a sniff at the track before.
Local boy under the radar with the other stars in attendance… A headline would write itself.
It’s never easy to back a player twice in a row, but Nicolas Colsaerts fits the bill again this week. He didn’t play badly at all in Portugal, finishing with a decent T12. His weekend performance will give him loads of confidence coming here having ended Friday on just -3. He was hitting the ball an absolute mile, averaging nearly 340 yards both days, but he was also inside the top 20 for GIR, which could make for devastating effect.
His putting stats were the best they’ve been in a long time as well, so if he is able to really attack the wider fairways and reign it in on the tighter ones, he could overpower this track.
A third Englishman to enjoy for us this week. Tom Lewis has been in and out of form but his game should really suit Close House.
He is one of the better drivers on Tour averaging over 300 yards and inside the top 100 for accuracy, whilst his irons are notoriously effective – 13th for GIR. As we’ve written before, it’s just his putting that lets him down. However, his T3 finish in Czech Republic a few weeks back he was in the top 11 for putts per GIR across the final 3 days, which proves he was attacking pins but also finding the cup.
Bring those together and he’ll be another decent outsider
Tee to green there’s few better talents than Matteo Manassero. When he’s on his game he can be devastating, it’s just he hasn’t been for a while. Until a revival of sorts in recent weeks where he’s recorded a T17 and T9. Not eye-opening by any means but it’s a damn sight better than what came before!
The Italian is still only 24 and already a 4-time European Tour champion and his form in British events has made us think he’s worth a punt. A winner at the BMW PGA in 2013 and T7 in 2011, 2 top 4 finishes at the Scottish Open and a couple of top 20s at The Open.
At 3-figure odds you have to ask yourself, why not?!