Course Overview. The Brabazon Course at The Belfry is no stranger to the European Tour with a number of events having been hosted here since the turn of the century, however prior to last year’s 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 7,310 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.
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. Event form stats are for the various venues used for the British Masters since 2002: Current Form | Event Form | First Round Leader Stats | Combined Stats.
For combined stats for the Belfry (including last year’s UK Championship) in isolation use this page: Belfry Combined Stats
Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.
Event Winners & Prices. 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. 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 sunshine and light showers possible all 4 days accompanied by light winds of 5-10mph. Temperatures will peak around 60 Fahrenheit in the afternoons.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors.
Analysing the final stats of the top 6 finishers here at The Belfry for last year’s ISPS Handa UK Championship gives us some indication as to what style of game this track demands:
- 1st, 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).
- 2nd, Justin Walters (-14). 303 yards (10th), 53.3% fairways (25th), 75% greens in regulation (6th), 72.2% scrambling (7th), 1.69 putts per GIR (9th).
- 3rd, Martin Kaymer (-13). 291 yards (30th), 50% fairways (35th), 80.5% greens in regulation (2nd), 50% scrambling (50th), 1.72 putts per GIR (12th).
- 3rd, Benjamin Hebert (-13). 293 yards (28th), 51.7% fairways (31st), 72.2% greens in regulation (18th), 60% scrambling (26th), 1.67 putts per GIR (3rd).
- 5th, Bernd Wiesberger (-12). 299 yards (16th), 53.3% fairways (25th), 65.3% greens in regulation (49th), 76% scrambling (2nd), 1.68 putts per GIR (7th).
- 5th, Craig Howie (-12). 290 yards (31st), 63.3% fairways (8th), 76.4% greens in regulation (4th), 41.2% scrambling (45th), 1.72 putts per GIR (14th).
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 last year ranked inside the top 6 for GIR on the week to further back up this point.
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.
From a Strokes Gained perspective, SG Approach would appear to have been the most important factor here at the Belfry last year with 3 of the top-4 finishers ranking 1st, 2nd and 4th on that count:
- 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
- 5th, Bernd Wiesberger: T: 22nd; A: 37th; T2G: 5th; ATG: 1st; P: 27th
- 5th, Craig Howie: T: 3rd; A: 25th; T2G: 10th; ATG: 27th; P: 15th
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.
Last year’s 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 was 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:
- 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
The other way to look at incoming form is to see how the top finishers at last year’s UK Championship held here at the Belfry were playing before that event:
- 1st, Rasmus Hojgaard: 13/49/1/MC/MC/MC/MC/6/MC/2/6/3
- 2nd, Justin Walters: MC/55/MC/67/MC/MC/30/MC/MC/MC/MC/39/MC
- 3rd, Martin Kaymer: MC/5/21/38/21/8/16/13/10/MC/MC/MC
- 3rd, Benjamin Hebert: 2/24/38/4/MC/45/27/18/43/17/34/MC
- 5th, Bernd Wiesberger: 49/49/3/28/8/MC/MC/37/MC/26/74/43
- 5th, Craig Howie: MC/MC/58/71/43/MC/10/MC/25/4/MC/21
Rasmus Hojgaard 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.
Aside from Angel Cabrera, our course winners here had patchy history at best at The Belfry prior to lifting their respective trophies:
- 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: