Our golf guru filled a few pockets with a 66/1 winner last week!
The resurgence of this fine event continues and personally I did fear with different players taking up the baton of tournament host that fields would eventually diminish in value as it happens more and more each year. Just this week we have heard of an event of Belgium taking place next year with Thomas Pieters as host. This is all great but it is all too common for my liking nowadays and with the Ladies European Tour seemingly plummeting into oblivion the men's tour can not be taken for granted either. It seems to me the tour would be struggling for some events without the profile and hosting duties by some of the players. The British Masters joins tournaments such as the Irish Open, Paul Lawrie Matchplay, Sergio Foundation event at Valderrama and now this Belgian event next year to be fronted by the big name players. Are we on the journey to each event being hosted by a homegrown player? It's fully feasible the tour will need the player's support that much for events to survive. A worrying trend in my view anyhow.
Onto this years British Masters at Close House in Newcastle and a stellar field has once again turned up to support the event which Sky Sports have fully supported since coming back to the rota a couple of years ago. This venue is a fascinating course that isn't too demanding length wise but will pose plenty of questions off the tee and on and around the greens. With some wind to contend with over the four days and some chilly morning to endure this will certainly prove far from easy and an interesting four days lay ahead.
A forlorn looking Rory McIlroy turns up with his name the sole reason why he slots in as tournament jolly. He wasn't expected to show here but with woeful form this past few months I believe he turns up searching in the dark for some form. You don't find that form off the golf course really, you need to work at it during tournament play and I think it's a goo decision to tee it up here instead of burying his head in the range. The course should suit. I do believe a lot of elements from Wentworth will come into play here wit accuracy off the tee and solid approach play to the right parts of the green being key to shooting a good score here. Is he capable? Some will say not, that is horse manure. Course he can do it. His price is about right and reflects his chances. Not many arrive here in red hot form so Rory does sneak in under the radar slightly, but I think he is best left alone at a venue which won't fully allow him to open his shoulders off the tee and gain an advantage on the rest.
The likes of Lowry, Noren and Fitzpatrick could go well here this week given the likely correlation between here and Wentworth. Lowry disappointed last week on the final day so I'm happy to pass him over at skinny odds. Noren I don't think is in quite the same form as what he was in the last 12 months. Fitzpatrick is a proper conundrum and one who I'd almost always rather get involved with in play should he make a quick start.
Having posted two top tens at Wentworth previously Ross Fisher went into this years renewal on the back of three missed cuts at the track. He polished off a solid performance to finish inside the top ten in 2017 though and coming back to a similar venue I think Ross can recapture some of the form he showed previously in the year. An accurate long game and in particular razor sharp iron play to the right parts of these greens will pay dividends this week and I think Fisher is one of the more capapble folk at executing this task. His impressive start to the year has somewhat tailed off of late. He finished 3rd and tied 5th back to back in two WGC's earlier in the year and backed that up with top tens at Shenzhen and then in China. Wentworth and Paris top tens followed and evidence has been that on the tighter tracks is where he produces his best form this year. What has held him back is the putter. The flat stick is usually the reason why he doesn't get over the line but that aspect could be levelled this week as I don't see a ton of putts being holed by the field on these tricky greens. Overall I think the 50/1 on offer is the best piece of value in the field.
After a string of missed cuts was ended with a solid performance in the Swiss mountains Tyrrell Hatton has to be considered on home soil. He is 4 from 4 at Wentworth with a top ten posted. Overall he too prefers a tree lined layout where accuracy off the tee is a premium. This course will test plenty of aspects of ones game but off the tee will no doubt be important, especially with the autumnal conditions that await the players. With a top 10 int his event last year and conditions to suit I think Hatton is worth the risk around the 33/1 mark.
I can't help but feel last weeks winner Lucas Bjerregaard might surpass some expectations here this week after a glorious display last Sunday. Bjerregaard was hugely impressive during his final round and barely broke sweat en route to victory in the Algarve. I mentioned last week how I'd usually wait until a tighter layout to back the Dane but considering his record at the Victoria course he was worth backing. This week is a venue on which I always imagined he could play well. Tight tree lined fairways seem to concentrate his mind and given the confidence he will have taken from last week I can't rule out another victory. Just how much he progresses after that is up for debate but there is an argument that he could properly kick on as he certainly looks the part when he swings the club.
Finally Nicolas Colsaerts has hinted at a return to form for parts of this year and this tournament might just hold the key to a return to the big time. He was another with a big finish in this years BMW coming with a late rattle to finish in a tie for 3rd. Another top ten followed the next week at the Nordea Masters and ever since his form has been somewhat up and down. Last week in Portugal he showed some decent signs posting a 12 under par total for tied 12th. That is encouraging and if he can get his flat stick rolling then he could be a lively runner at 3 figure odds. Of the rest Wiesberger tempted me the most with a recent solid performance in Crans. He could well be the one to contend from the top of the market.