The reorganised British Masters has quickly become one of the most highly anticipated events on the European Tour schedule. The tour’s decision to have a player host the tournament has helped attract star names to the event while the support of Sky Sports makes this a real fan friendly four days.
After quality renewals at Woburn and the Grove, the 2017 edition takes place at Close House. The Colt Course at the Newcastle venue was designed with the help of Lee Westwood and it’s the 23-time European Tour winner who hosts this year. Westwood is being supported by European stars including Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and both the last two champions, Alex Noren and Matt Fitzpatrick.
The calibre of the players competing this week suggests that we’re in for a highly competitive tournament but it’s going to be far from easy at Close House. There is some pretty nasty weather in the forecast which will only add to the difficulty of the Colt Course. The layout contains deep rough, tree lined fairways, huge elevation changes and some very tricky greens. It’s going to take an all-round quality performance to have any chance of being crowned the 2017 British Masters champion.
Lowry Has All the Tools Required for Close House
The setting for last week’s Portugal Masters is about as good as it gets on the European Tour but Shane Lowry found it very hard to enjoy himself. The Irishman played some very good golf from tee to green but had plenty to say about the quality of the greens at Vilamoura. Whether it was their slow pace, the way they firmed up or the bumps that increased throughout the day, Lowry never felt comfortable over his putts.
The standard of the greens at Close House should be much more to Lowry’s liking. He’ll also feel at home at a blustery course which requires accuracy of the tee and a solid strategy to get the ball close to the hole. Lowry is desperate for a place in next summer’s Ryder Cup and can pick up some valuable ranking points with a British Masters win at 28/1 with Betfair.
Hend Can Drive His Way to Success
Scott Hend’s last appearance on the European Tour ended in disappointment as he was unable to convert a 54 hole lead at the Omega European Masters. Hend used his world class ability off the tee to great effect for most of that tournament but was unable to find his best stuff on Sunday.
That display was a little surprising for a man with 14 professional wins under his belt. Hend has shown a much calmer demeanour under pressure before and if his world class driving gets him into a similar position this week, he should make a better fist of things so back him each way at 66/1 with Ladbrokes.
Willett Starting to Turn the Corner
After a horrid 18 months or so, Danny Willett was closer to the levels we know he’s capable of in Portugal. He didn’t kick on at the weekend but the work Willett’s put in with his new coach is starting to pay off. A win is unlikely this week but a top 10 finish is within his grasp at 8/1 with Coral.