A disappointing week in China with 80/1 shot Minwoo Lee our best chance before failing to make much of an impression over the weekend and treading water in 14th place overall coming Sunday evening.
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 European Tour schedule, give or take the odd omission, right up to 2008 when Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano took the trophy 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 4 years ago by winning this title at Woburn and Alex Noren added his 3rd of 4 2016 titles at The Grove the year after, successfully holding off final day efforts from Bernd Wiesberger and Lee Westwood. Paul Dunne added his name to the list 2 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 last autumn in challenging conditions, holding off Alexander Bjork to record his second European Tour title in impressive fashion.
Following Pepperell’s win in October, the event looked in doubt as Sky Sports’ sponsorship deal ended and it looked to have fallen off the schedule before Betfred stepped in to keep the tournament alive. To compliment their sponsorship of the event, Betfred are also offering a massive 10 places each way, 1/5 odds for the event – for latest Betfred odds click here.
British Masters – Featured Bookmaker:
Betfred are attacking this week’s British Masters and are offering a record-breaking 10 places each-way at 1/5 odds. 10 places each way at this event has never been chalked-up before and with strong prices to boot. If you haven’t already got a Betfred account then new UK customers can also access their British Masters new customer offer which is bet £10 get £40 in free bets. 18+, T&Cs apply: Promo code MASTERS40 required – use this qualifying link to claim.
- Betfred Sports – Bet £10, Get £40 in free bets: New UK & NI customers only. 18+. Promo period from 00:00 07/05/19 until 15:00 12/05/19. Register using the promo code MASTERS40 and place first bet of £10 (evens or greater) or more any Betfred British Masters Golf market (Specials/boosted markets do not count). £40 Free Bet credited before within 24 hours of bet settlement. Free Bets expire after 7 days. E-Wallet & Prepaid Card restrictions apply. SMS validation may be required. Full T&Cs apply.
Course Overview. Hillside Golf Club plays host to a European Tour event this week for the first time since 1982 when it staged the Sun Alliance PGA Championship. The 2013 English Seniors Open (final leaderboard here) won by Carl Mason was also hosted here, as was Open Championship qualifying from 2014-17, however in terms of tangible stats we’re in the dark this week.
The course though promises to be an absolute cracker. It’s a 6,953 yard par-72 built on true links land on the ‘Golf Coast’ which includes the links of Royal Lytham & St Annes and Royal Birkdale – indeed Birkdale sits literally next door to Hillside with the 2017 Open Championship venue backing onto the 17th hole. Somewhat of a rarity in that this is a genuine links which also features trees on a number of holes, the back-9 is where the course really comes into its own as it meanders through the sand dunes for a true aesthetic delight. Thick rough from off the fairway will catch out the wayward as will typical links features such as pot bunkers, fescue and brooks throughout the course.
The par-5s all measure under 550 yards and there are a number of par-4s in the 400 yard region, however this course is by no means a pushover, particularly when the wind blows. A patient, strategic game is required from tee-to-green and every club in the bag is likely to be used as players navigate around the dog-legs that make this much more of a shot-making challenge.
Tournament Stats. This is the first time that Hillside has been used for the British Masters, so the event stats for this week should be considered accordingly: Current Form | Event Form | Event Top 20s | Event First Round Leader | Combined Stats.
Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.
Winners & Prices. 2018: Eddie Pepperell, 30/1; 2017: Paul Dunne, 66/1; 2016: Alex Noren, 18/1; 2015: Matt Fitzpatrick, 33/1.
Weather Forecast. The latest weather forecast for Southport is here. Thursday is forecast to start damp with the potential for a little drizzle before clearing up in the afternoon; the rest of the week is then set fair with temperatures slowly improving to the mid-50s Fahrenheit. The wind will be a moderate 10-15mph from the north-west for the first three days before slowly switching round towards the west as the slightly warmer weather creeps in.
Incoming Form: Since the British Masters was re-established in 2015, the four winners Eddie Pepperell, Paul Dunne, Alex Noren and Matt Fitzpatrick had each shown some decent enough form in the weeks prior to their victory.
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:
- 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
The challenge this week will be that we’re heading into the unknown with the course given it’s not been used on the European Tour for over 35 years and we’ll have to go very much on specification this week. For me this is a genuine links course that will require an element of patient navigation to get around safely. With a relatively breezy forecast for Thursday to Saturday, I can’t see scoring getting out of control here, so those with experience of British conditions and/or decent performances on links/coastal tracks in the past are preferred.
My selections are as follows: