Paul Williams

Paul Williams' Betfred British Masters Tips 2022

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The less said about last week’s Catalunya Championship the better from a punting perspective, however we did finally get to see one of the Tour’s most likely winners-in-waiting, Adri Arnaus, finally get over the line following an excruciating play-off with Oliver Bekker, so well done if you backed him at 40/1.

On to this week then and dating all the way back to 1946 when Bobby Locke and Jimmy Adams tied for the title at Stoneham Golf Club, the British Masters was a mainstay on the schedule, give or take the odd omission, right up to 2008 when Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano took the trophy here at The Belfry which had hosted the event for 3 years on the trot. Forest of Arden GC and Woburn, both the Duke’s and Marquess Course, have also hosted this event since the turn of the century before the event dropped off the schedule until its renaissance in 2015.

Matthew Fitzpatrick realised the potential that many had seen in him on the event’s re-start by winning this title at Woburn and Alex Noren added his 3rd of 4 2016 titles at The Grove a year later, successfully holding off final day efforts from Bernd Wiesberger and Lee Westwood.

Paul Dunne added his name to the champions’ list 5 years ago at Close House where a closing round of 61, punctuated by a chip-in birdie on the 72nd hole, was enough to keep Rory McIlroy at bay and earn the Irishman a well-deserved first European Tour victory. Eddie Pepperell proved victorious the following autumn in challenging conditions at Walton Heath, holding off Alexander Bjork to record his second European Tour title in impressive fashion, before Marcus Kinhult was victorious at Hillside in 2019, arriving off the back of four consecutive missed cuts.

Renato Paratore won the hastily-arranged 2020 renewal at Close House as the Tour patched together their post-lockdown UK Swing, with the Italian impressively holding off Rasmus Hojgaard by 3 strokes. And who can forget last year’s emotional win for Richard Bland, who at the age of 48 became the oldest first-time winner on Tour here at The Belfry.

The Brabazon Course and Danny Willett host this week’s renewal again this week, although the field isn’t as strong as perhaps we’d have hoped or expected. That said we still have the likes of Robert MacIntyre, Lee Westwood and Willett himself towards the top of an open betting market, alongside last week’s winner Adri Arnaus, course winners Rasmus Hojgaard and Richard Bland, plus Adrian Meronk, Sam Horsfield and Lawrie Canter.

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Course Overview. The Brabazon Course at The Belfry is no stranger to the circuit with a number of events having been hosted here since the turn of the century, however prior to the 2020 ISPS Handa UK Championship won by Rasmus Hojgaard, 2008 was the last time that we saw the Peter Alliss and Dave Thomas design in competitive action at this level. 4 Ryder Cups have also been played around these parts, the most recent of which was team Europe’s win in 2002.

Parkland in style with water in play on half of the holes, the track measures 7,328 yards for its par of 72. 12 par-4s instead of the more typical 10 means that there are just 3 each of the par-3s and par-5s, however scoring on those longer holes at 538, 566 and 564 yards for the 3rd, 15th and 17th respectively is an important part of compiling a competitive score here.

Historically the fairways here have been narrow and the rough lush, however the Bent/Poa greens are of excellent quality giving a little respite to those who are less adept on and around the putting surfaces.

british masters tips

Tournament Stats. We’ve published some key statistics for this week’s event that will help to shape a view on players who might go well this week. Course stats include the various events that have been played here at The Belfry since 2000: Current Form | Course Form | First Round Leader Stats | Combined Stats.

Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.

British Masters – Event Winners & Prices. 2021: Richard Bland, 150/1; 2020: Renato Paratore, 50/1; 2019: Marcus Kinhult, 175/1; 2018: Eddie Pepperell, 30/1; 2017: Paul Dunne, 66/1; 2016: Alex Noren, 18/1; 2015: Matt Fitzpatrick, 33/1.

For a summary of winners’ odds on the European Tour for the past 10 years click here.

Course Winners. 2021: Richard Bland, -13; 2020: Rasmus Hojgaard, -14; 2008: Gonzalo Fdez-Castano, -12; 2007: Lee Westwood, -15; 2006: Johan Edfors, -11; 2003: Paul Casey, -11; 2002: Angel Cabrera, -10; 2001, Henrik Stenson, -13; 2000: Jose Maria Olazabal, -13.

Weather Forecast. The latest weather forecast for the area is here.

Typical spring-like weather for the UK is to be expected this week with sunny spells and the odd shower likely, accompanied by light winds of 5-10mph. Temperatures will peak around 65 Fahrenheit in the afternoons.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors.

Analysing the final stats of the two winners here at The Belfry in recent years gives us a little more insight into the skill-sets required:

  • 2021, Richard Bland (-13). 272 yards (52nd), 78.3% fairways (1st), 82.0% greens in regulation (2nd), 92.3% scrambling (1st), 1.78 putts per GIR (48th).
  • 2020, Rasmus Hojgaard (-14). 304 yards (9th), 48.3% fairways (40th), 75% greens in regulation (6th), 55.6% scrambling (36th), 1.65 putts per GIR (1st).

Looking at the list of players who’ve succeeded around the Brabazon course here at The Belfry, it’s fair to say that generally better Total Driving and Ball-Striking has been the key to success. 4 of the top 6 finishers here in 2020 ranked inside the top 6 for GIR on the week to further back up this point, and last year’s winner Richard Bland ranked 2nd on that same statistic.

The greens here are generally easy to read and favour those players who might otherwise struggle on the putting surfaces, and again that’s reinforced when you see a list of names including Lee Westwood, Paul Casey and Henrik Stenson all having won here.

Strokes Gained: From a Strokes Gained perspective, SG Approach and SG Tee to Green are both prominent with a number of the top performers, although in both instances the odd player who putted lights out on the week also made the frame:

2021:

  • 1st, Richard Bland: T: 18th; A: 2nd; T2G: 1st; ATG: 37th; P: 55th
  • 2nd, Guido Migliozzi: T: 19th; A: 7th; T2G: 4th; ATG: 20th; P: 36th
  • 3rd, Dave Coupland: T: 27th; A: 34th; T2G: 34th; ATG: 52nd; P: 1st
  • 3rd, Mikko Korhonen: T: 23rd; A: 1st; T2G: 3rd; ATG: 69th; P: 44th
  • 3rd, Adrian Meronk: T: 15th; A: 39th; T2G: 33rd; ATG: 55th; P: 2nd

2020:

  • 1st, Rasmus Hojgaard: T: 11th; A: 4th; T2G: 2nd; ATG: 38th; P: 20th
  • 2nd, Justin Walters: T: 25th; A: 21st; T2G: 25th; ATG: 47th; P: 1st
  • 3rd, Martin Kaymer:: T: 39th; A: 2nd; T2G: 13th; ATG: 52nd; P: 4th
  • 3rd, Benjamin Hebert: T: 46th; A: 1st; T2G: 6th; ATG: 41st; P: 19th

Key: T: SG Off the Tee; A; SG Approach; T2G: SG Tee to Green; ATG: SG Around the Green; P: SG Putting.

Incoming Form: Since the British Masters was re-established in 2015, the four winners prior to Marcus Kinhult – Eddie Pepperell, Paul Dunne, Alex Noren and Matt Fitzpatrick – had each shown some decent enough form in the weeks prior to their victory. Marcus Kinhult was far more difficult to find as he’d missed each of his previous 4 cuts, shooting 80 on his previous competitive round before opening with a 65 at Hillside and hardly looking back.

Eddie Pepperell had recorded 5 top-10 finishes in his previous 8 starts, 2 of which were runner-up finishes at the Scottish Open and Portugal Masters. Paul Dunne had produced two top-15 finishes in his previous three strokeplay events and after a shaky 74 to start on his most recent start in Holland, nobody in the field bettered his final 3-round total. For Noren this was the third of four 2016 victories and he was clearly in exceptional form overall, whereas for Fitzpatrick his win at Woburn marked his maiden success on the European Tour, however with four top-3 finishes in his previous 11 events he was clearly knocking very loudly on the door.

2020 winner Renato Paratore secured his second European Tour title at Close House off the back of a 15th place finish in Austria a fortnight before, which was his only start since lockdown had eased. The Italian sat 2nd at the halfway point at Diamond Country Club and had also been prominent in Saudi and Abu Dhabi in strong fields earlier in the year.

Last year’s fairytale win for Richard Bland, on the 478th time of asking as a professional, wasn’t completely out of the blue either as he’d finished runner-up at Leopard Creek the previous November and had recorded a top-10 finish in Gran Canaria as recently as 3 weeks prior:

  • 2021, Richard Bland: 16/7/2/40/35/MC/52/MC/MC/8/MC/27
  • 2020, Renato Paratore: 48/40/21/36/19/2/21/MC/27/74/47/15
  • 2019, Marcus Kinhult: 22/30/71/22/20/MC/MC/18/MC/MC/MC/MC
  • 2018, Eddie Pepperell: 43/51/DQ/MC/2/6/59/9/56/6/2/44
  • 2017, Paul Dunne: 33/30/MC/MC/13/54/26/MC/9/14/70/14
  • 2016, Alex Noren: MC/43/12/MC/8/1/46/49/2/1/34/11
  • 2015, Matt Fitzpatrick: MC/3/MC/MC/77/2/17/44/3/30/3/MC

As an additional angle, we can also look at Rasmus Hojgaard’s win here at The Belfry at the 2020 UK Championship:

  • 2020, Rasmus Hojgaard: 13/49/1/MC/MC/MC/MC/6/MC/2/6/3

The young Dane was a fairly obvious winner with incoming form of 2/6/3 over his past 3 starts and justified his 14/1 quotes in the end via a play-off.

Course Form:

Aside from Angel Cabrera, our course winners here had patchy history at best at The Belfry prior to lifting their respective trophies:

  • 2021: Richard Bland: 46/31/MC/MC/19
  • 2020: Rasmus Hojgaard: Debut
  • 2008: Gonzalo Fdez Castano: 14/57
  • 2007: Lee Westwood: 54/57/MC/27/MC
  • 2006: Johan Edfors: Debut
  • 2003: Paul Casey: 12/MC
  • 2002: Angel Cabrera: 9/2
  • 2001, Henrik Stenson: Debut
  • 2000: Jose Maria Olazabal: Debut

For me, the Belfry is a good test of golf and scoring isn’t likely to get out of control, despite a fairly quiet weather forecast. Historically straightforward greens of excellent quality will encourage birdies though to those who can keep the ball in play, and overall I’d favour those who can gain most of their strokes from tee-to-green and with their approach play, as opposed to on the putting surfaces themselves.

My selections are as follows:

Jordan Smith 2pts EW 25/1 (10EW, 1/5) with Betfred

The top of the market is as open as you’re likely to see on the DP World Tour with most bookies leading off with Robert MacIntyre at around the 25/1 mark and another dozen or so players 33/1 or shorter.

Danny Willet, Lee Westwood and the favourite (at the time of writing) MacIntyre hold the most tangible recent form, finishing 12th, 14th and 23rd respectively at Augusta National last month, and on that basis alone you could make a case for any of that talented trio, however I’m starting this week’s team with Jordan Smith who might just take inspiration from the success of another perennial bridesmaid, Adri Arnaus, last week.

3 top-9 finishes in 2022 so far for Smith, including 2 as runner-up, is comparable to Arnaus’ record of 4 top-9s (1 as runner-up) prior to his win last week, and it’s fair to say that both men have been hammering on the door in recent times. Of course that door eventually can open as we saw on Sunday and perhaps Jordan will be next to walk on through.

Now I’m talking here as if Smith is a Tour maiden, which isn’t the case: he won the 2017 Porsche European Open on another parkland layout, beating our man Alex Levy in extra holes. 5 years since that win though is a long time, and for a player of his ability getting back into the winner’s circle sooner rather than later has got to be a priority.

On a ball-striker’s track such as The Belfry, Smith fits like a glove. 7th for SG Off the Tee, 29th for SG Approach and 15th for SG Tee to Green are impressive long-game numbers for 2022 to date, and 17th overall here at last year’s British Masters is a good platform for improvement after he missed the cut the year before on debut at the UK Championship. A solitary top-10 finish from his 8 starts prior in 2021 isn’t a patch on what he’s done a year further on though and I suspect he can push on from that effort considerably.

Of course, the final part of the jigsaw is getting over the line which we’ll have to take our chances on should he get himself in position on Sunday. He didn’t do a massive amount wrong at Pecanwood a few weeks back though, eventually succumbing to a Pablo Larrazabal birdie on the second extra hole, and perhaps next time it will be his turn once again. RESULT: T21

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Justin Harding 1.5pts EW 40/1 (10EW, 1/5) with Betfred

Another player with a quietly impressive effort here at The Belfry to his name is Justin Harding. 4th to halfway here 12 months ago, it was a final round 73 that eventually scuppered his chances and the South African finished in a tie for 19th overall. That was his 5th week straight out on the road though and he arrives here far more rested, having shaken the rust of on home soil with a 7th place finish at the Southern Africa Tour Championship after a month off.

No stats were captured for last week’s Sunshine Tour event, however prior to that we’d seen his long game in good shape in Qatar, ranking 6th for Driving Accuracy on his way to a 5th place finish overall, and that backed up early-season efforts of 4th at the Dubai Desert Classic and 9th at the Ras al Khaimah Championship.

The flat stick has also been fairly reliable for the 36 year-old in 2022 thus far, ranking 12th on Tour for Putting Average from his 28 recorded rounds, and success or failure is likely to be how he performs from a ball-striking perspective this week. When it all clicks for Justin then he’s quite capable of winning a title like this – indeed the 2019 Qatar Masters and last year’s Kenya Open are testament to that. 3rd and 2nd for SG Tee to Green respectively on those winning weeks shows us that he can put it all together every now and then, and should he repeat that kind of performance this week then he’ll go very close. RESULT: T16

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Jason Scrivener 1pt EW 66/1 (10EW, 1/5) with Betfred

A missed cut on his record here last year from his only attempt at The Belfry may be enough to put some punters off of backing Jason Scrivener this week, however I’m marking that down as largely irrelevant given that his mind was more likely on his US PGA Championship debut the following week – I suspect he couldn’t wait to get himself out of Sutton Coldfield and on the plane to South Carolina.

In hindsight it was probably a good move as the Australian recorded his best Major finish with a tie for 23rd and he promptly followed that up with contending performances at the Made in Himmerland (3rd), Scandinavian Mixed (7th) and Irish Open (9th) as he looked to make a breakthrough on the DP World Tour.

That first win is yet to materialise – his runner-up finish to Tyrrell Hatton in Abu Dhabi at the start of last year is still the closest he’s come – however with a 6-stroke Australasian Tour win to his name, I suspect that he’ll get over the line at some point.

A course that demands a tidy long game is the best fit for the 33 year-old who’s middling at best when it comes to the Driving Distance stats, and recent accuracy rankings of 9th, 15th, 3rd, 6th and 10th bodes well for a strong showing on a dry Brabazon track. 3 top-5 GIR performances over those same starts also encourages and 11th for SG Approach and 4th for SG Tee to Green last week in Girona seals his inclusion in this week’s team.

10th alongside Jason Day on his penultimate start on the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic is positive and I can see him pushing on this week. RESULT: T45

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Lukas Nemecz 1pt EW 100/1 (10EW, 1/5) with Betfred

I backed Lukas Nemecz in Tarragona a fortnight ago ultimately to no avail as he finished in a tie for 15th in the first of the Spanish events, however there’s still plenty to like about the Austrian’s game and in particular how it should fit this week’s test at The Belfry.

3 wins on the Alps Tour between 2017 and 2020 was followed by 3 runner-up finishes on the Challenge Tour last year, and the 31 year-old earned his stab at the upper tier this year by virtue of his eventual ranking on the Race to Mallorca. From the relatively few starts he’s made on the DP World Tour thus far, there’s been plenty to like.

3rd at the Ras al Khaimah Championship is his best result at the upper tier to date, however he impressed again when sitting in 6th place heading into the weekend in Qatar before fading to 27th. 26th last week to follow up his aforementioned 15th at the ISPS Handa Championship in Spain means it’s 7 paid weekends from his last 8 starts, and he even had time to return home and win a small local event at the Audi Circuit to suggest he’s hungry for silverware.

2nd for SG Off the Tee in Qatar, 2nd for SG Approach at both the Kenya Open and Steyn City Championship, and top 20 for SG Tee to Green on each of his last 5 starts where he’s completed the full 4 rounds fits nicely to this week’s task, and I’m happy to take another chance on him here. RESULT: MC

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Daniel Gavins 1pt EW 100/1 (10EW, 1/5) with Betfred

Taking the Strokes Gained numbers as gospel on the DP World Tour is a dangerous game, but there’s enough in the overall numbers that Daniel Gavins has been producing of late to take a chance on him here at a 3-figure price; after all, this is a relatively local golfer who’s already got his maiden DP World Tour title under his belt, having won the ISPS Handa World Invitational last year at 13-under par.

Back to his numbers then and digging beneath the surface of a season-long ranking of 16th for SG Approach, we find in-field rankings of 1st (Kenya Open), 7th (MyGolfLife Open) and 11th (Steyn City Championship), as well as 2nd last week. Yes, do take these numbers with a liberal pinch of salt in some instances, but there’s no smoke without fire.

Likewise, 1st, 6th, 3rd and 6th for SG Tee to Green at the same events offers encouragement for this week’s task, and we have similar evidence from the back end of 2021 at the Dubai Championship and Joburg Open.

A 2020 missed cut at The Belfry is the Leeds man’s only course form here at the Brabazon, however he’d missed 7 of his previous 9 cuts prior to that and is clearly in far better nick in more recent times. 6th at the Dunhill Links was a step forward after a lull following his breakthrough win; 11th at Valderrama, 6th at the Kenya Open and 13th last week offers further encouragement that he can go well this week. RESULT: MC

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 16:00BST 2.5.22 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.

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