The English Open, currently the Cazoo Classic, was introduced in 1988 with the aim of being a genuine national open for England. The Open Championship played the role of national open for Britain but England was lacking a professional event to do that job and it was very well supported by the European Tour right from the off.
English winners of the tournament included Mark James and Lee Westwood while other big names to triumph were Ian Woosnam, Colin Montgomerie and Darren Clarke who won his third English Open in 2002 before the event fell off the European Tour schedule. The event was reborn in the face of the adversity of 2020 as the Hero Open and played at Forest of Arden, the host of the previous three editions and could be set for a long spell back as a European Tour event.
|2022||Hillside Golf Club||Richie Ramsay|
|2021||London Golf Club||Calum Hill|
|2020||Forest of Arden Hotel & Country Club||Sam Horsfield|
2022: Richie Ramsay
The world of golf was a tumultuous place when Richie Ramsay turned up to Hillside Golf Links for the Cazoo Classic. As a fierce debate about what does and doesn’t matter in the professional game, Ramsay’s reaction on the 18th green was a timely reminder of how much winning on the DP World Tour still means to so many players.
Ramsay crumpled in a ball of emotion after completing his final round of 69. That score came courtesy of a tremendous closing run in which he made birdie on three of his last five holes. Although everybody in attendance at Hillside was very much impressed by Ramsay’s play, the Scot did have to play the role of party pooper somewhat as he snatched the victory from local player Paul Waring by a single stroke.
Ramsay knew that his game was in good shape. He came agonisingly close to securing the win he so desired at the British Masters and knew that it was as much a case of requiring mental resilience than anything technical to haul himself back inside the winner’s circle. “It feels unbelievable, the relief,” Ramsay said afterwards. “I haven’t won since my daughter was born and that’s six years. That one is for Olivia. I hope she is watching.”
2021: Calum Hill
It’s been a tough spell for Scottish golf in recent years but things are beginning to change for the better. Robert MacIntyre is leading the charge and his performances around the world have been an inspiration to others including Calum Hill. The 26-year-old became the second Scotsman to earn their maiden European Tour win in a fortnight with a one shot win in the Cazoo Classic.
This was a big win for many reasons for Hill. Perhaps most impressively it showed that he has a real steely desire to get the job done. Not only did he chase down a three shot deficit in the final round of the Cazoo Classic but his win came just a week after he threw away the 54 hole lead at the Hero Open last time out. As happy as he was for Grant Forrest to win at Fairmont St Andrews, Hill was upset with himself to miss that golden opportunity and it is to his immense credit that he gathered himself to go again at London Golf Club.
As with any first time winner on the European Tour, the job facing Hill is to make sure that he is no one hit wonder. “This is the starting point,” he said. “Hopefully I can keep pushing on from here and see where I can take it.” With three wins on the Challenge Tour, Hill clearly knows how to get the job done and he’ll be seeking to make the most of this strong run of form to move even higher than his current ranking of 22nd on the Race to Dubai.
2020: Sam Horsfield
Challenges always bring opportunities. The European Tour had a huge challenge reworking the schedule after the enforced shutdown of golf in the spring of 2020 and one of the opportunities created was the chance to resurrect the English Open. Sam Horsfield rose to the challenge to take advantage of the newly minted Hero Open, edging out Thomas Detry by one shot at the Forest of Arden for his maiden European Tour title.
Horsfield was full of confidence having been in contention at the British Masters a week earlier but this time he was able to maintain his title challenge. The 23 year old ended his final round with the same one shot advantage that he carried overnight for an extra special first win as it came in his native England, a feat that has so far eluded his long term mentor Ian Poulter.
While Horsfield coped with the pressure well, Detry crumbled to make a mistake at just the wrong time. The Belgian got himself into the lead with a birdie on the 17th but handed that shot back on the last. That bogey still left Horsfield in a share of the lead but a birdie-par finish proved enough for the victory.