Niall Lyons picks out his best bets for this week's British Masters at The Grove.
The return of the British Masters a year ago was a welcome addition to the schedule and everyone is pleased to see it going from strength to strength with Luke Donald taking over from Ian Poulter as host for this years tournament. The Grove is the venue this time around which was last used in 2006 for the WGC American Express which Tiger absolutely romped as he often did. Cold and potentially frosty mornings will await the golfers at the Grove but with a top field assembled it will no doubt be another top class tournament.
The leaderboard throughout the four days at that WGC was awash with British Open specialists and I'll be keeping that in mind whenever sifting through the field this week. Tiger, Harrington, Cink, Els, Scott, Stenson, Poulter have all had parts to play in the Open down the years and they all figured on the leaderboard towards the end. A mixture of Open experience and Wentworth form will no doubt be beneficial this week. There is certainly a premium on accuracy off the tee at the Grove.
Wiesberger is a weak favourite for me this week. Playing well of late but with the quality of field tucked in behind we can easily pass him up in favour of others. Noren continues to play well although his disappointing weekend at last weeks Dunhill Links is enough to put me off investing.
We have a five pronged attack for the British Masters and it starts with TOMMY FLEETWOOD. The English have a top record at this event and excluding Ross Fisher, Fleetwood holds the best chance for me. Fleetwood had a very poor year up until the last month or so but now he is playing some very decent stuff and I'm prepared to give him the nod. His last 15 rounds of golf read 67-67-69-71-68-71-66-64-70-65-66-72-67-70-68. This is clearly a man in form and I don't see why the Grove shouldn't be a decent fit.
A number of the holes are tree lined which will no doubt suit him and ranking 1st last week in GIR is a sound stat to be going into this week with. His price isn't overly exciting for someone who hasn't won a three years, but this week is more likely than any.
I've tried to find reasons not to include ROSS FISHER in the staking plan and although I can find a few I find it hard to keep him off the list. He arrives as the form golfer in the field with two runner up finishes on the trot and although he usually finds a way not to win this may just be the week where it all comes together. It is an obvious pick but considering how he is playing and coming to an event dominated by the natives, at 20/1 he rates a lot better value than Wiesberger, Noren, Hatton and Lowry. He has got a proper spring in his step and should really fancy his chances on a layout that should yield plenty of opportunities for him to shoot in the mid 60s.
Another Englishman worth a second look this week is DAVID HORSEY. He hit 79% of fairways last week at the Dunhill and finished a respectable 12th. It is also worth noting that nobody finished above him last week from his third of the draw. Two top five finishes at the KLM and Italian Opens in September clearly show this lad is in fine form. He is another who doesn't win an awful lot so it is hard to get too excited about him but the 66/1 on offer this week for a native in this kind of form is very tempting.
The Italian teenager RENTAO PARATORE could make it two breakthrough wins on the trot here at the British Masters by following Matt Fitzpatrick's heroics last year. Paratore is slipping under the radar this week as bookies and pundits alike ponder just how good this lad could be. Top 20s in the Made in Denmark and European Open in recent weeks have been backed up by top tens in the Omega in Crans and last week at the Dunhill Links. Last weeks finish earned him his biggest pay day on the tour to date. A fair bit of the pressure must be off his shoulders and at 100/1 I believe he is worthy of some each-way money.