Albatross Golf Resort, Prague, Czech Republic. Designer: Keith Preston, 2010; Par: 72; Length: 7,467 yards; Fairways: Bentgrass/Fescue; Rough: Rye; Greens: A1/A4 Bentgrass; Stimp: 12ft.
Course Overview. The course, which is located on the South-Western outskirts of Prague at slight altitude, is a 7,467 yard, par 72 with exposed fairways and large bentgrass greens designed to cater for the tourist trade first and foremost, with 4 or 5 teeing areas on each hole.
Fairways are fairly generous and the main challenges with the driver are carefully placed bunkers. The bunkering has been reworked since we last visited this track with the objective to ‘improve visibility, interest and character’. How that actually affects playability remains to be seen, however visually the bunkering looks more prominent and in some places have been removed completely.
The first and 12th are par-5s that present scoring opportunities to the bombers who can get their drives away; back-to-back par 5s around the turn are perhaps a little too long at over 600 yards each, however the par-4 6th can be played from the forward tee which brings the front edge of the green into play with the driver and the hole played the 6th easiest to par 2 years ago.
Other holes on the course demand a little respect and this is a layout where a variety of playing styles may well feature at the top of Sunday’s leaderboard, with water in play on 7 holes and more substantially towards the end of the 18.
Tournament Stats. We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s D+D Real Czech Masters that will help to shape a view on players who traditionally play well at this event: Current Form | Tournament 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.
Winners & Prices. 2019: Thomas Pieters, 20/1; 2018: Andrea Pavan, 50/1; 2017: Haydn Porteous, 66/1; 2016: Paul Peterson, 250/1; 2015: Thomas Pieters, 80/1; 2014: Jamie Donaldson, 12/1.
Weather Forecast. The latest weather forecast for Prague is here.
Nothing much to report in truth with sunny spells expected and temperatures creeping up to the low-to-mid 70s Fahrenheit by Sunday afternoon. Winds will be generally light at 5-10mph, with the odd gust or two maybe a little stronger.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors. Analysing the final stats of the 6 winners here since 2014 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:
- 2019: Thomas Pieters (-19). 318 yards (1st), 58.9% fairways (54th), 83.3% greens in regulation (2nd), 75% scrambling (18th), 1.70 putts per GIR (15th).
- 2018: Andrea Pavan (-22). 297 yards (41st), 64.3% fairways (34th), 80.6% greens in regulation (6th), 42.9% scrambling (36th), 1.52 putts per GIR (1st).
- 2017: Haydn Porteous (-13). 304 yards (9th), 66.1% fairways (25th), 81.9% greens in regulation (2nd), 30.8% scrambling (51st), 1.68 putts per GIR (2nd).
- 2016: Paul Peterson (-15). 287 yards (40th), 82.1% fairways (3rd), 83.3% greens in regulation (1st), 58.3% scrambling (25th), 1.67 putts per GIR (2nd).
- 2015: Thomas Pieters (-20). 321 yards (1st), 62.5% fairways (27th), 75.0% greens in regulation (22nd), 72.2% scrambling (10th), 1.54 putts per GIR (1st).
- 2014: Jamie Donaldson (-14). 291 yards (24th), 64.3% fairways (34th), 80.6% greens in regulation (2nd), 42.9% scrambling (65th), 1.65 putts per GIR (4th).
An exposed track with fairly wide fairways and large greens doesn’t give away many clues with even the more wayward players hitting reasonable numbers on both counts, however to score here a tidy long game which maximises GIR is probably key.
Despite not being the longest of players from off the tee, only one player bettered Paul Peterson’s 8-under total on the par 5s here in 2016 and he made a total of 21 birdies and just 6 bogeys on the week overall. Similarly Thomas Pieters and Jamie Donaldson both excelled on the par 5s when they won – both led the field in that respect in their winning efforts – and attacking the birdie holes whilst defending on the trickier par 4s and the tougher par 3s looks the best method to getting into contention around these parts.
2017 was a bit trickier with cooler temperatures which led to Haydn Porteous winning with a 6-under total on the par-5s and a total of 21 birdies and an eagle, offset by 8 bogeys and a double for his -13 overall total. More scoreable conditions in 2018 restored order with Andrea Pavan’s 11-under for the par-5s beaten by just one player on the week.
Thomas Pieters’ second win here in 2019 saw him card an 8-under total on the par-5s, and on average everyone who finished in the top-5 plus ties played the long holes in a little better than 9-under par. With relatively straightforward conditions expected again this week, I’d anticipate that a player’s performance on the long holes will once again be pivotal to success.
From a Strokes Gained perspective, the top two players here in 2019 both excelled from Off the Tee and Tee to Green whilst both losing strokes on the greens over the 4 days. Conversely, Sam Horsfield and Andrea Pavan weren’t as tidy from a long game perspective, but both produced a stronger flat stick performance. The only consistent factor from all 4 players was SG Approach:
- 1st: Thomas Pieters. T: 4th; A: 1st; T2G: 2nd; ATG: 56th; P: 52nd
- 2nd: Adri Arnaus, T: 1st; A: 11th; T2G: 1st; ATG: 4th; P: 61st
- 3rd: Sam Horsfield, T: 42nd; A: 8th; T2G: 7th; ATG: 19th; P: 16th
- 3rd: Andrea Pavan, T: 51st; A: 9th; T2G: 22nd; ATG: 38th; P: 4th
Key: T: SG Off the Tee; A; SG Approach; T2G: SG Tee to Green; ATG: SG Around the Green; P: SG Putting.
Jamie Donaldson arrived at the Albatross Golf Resort 7 years ago with 4-event form of MC/MC/37/24, albeit the final 3 events were Major/WGC/Major; Thomas Pieters was similarly non-descript with incoming form of MC/60/33/35 before winning here and then again on his next start in Holland a fortnight later.
250/1 shock winner Paul Peterson was playing on the Asian Tour predominantly alongside the occasional co-sanctioned event and although he’d recorded a 3rd place finish the previous month at the Queen’s Cup, his efforts when competing at this level were far from encouraging.
Of the 6 winners, the two victors in 2017 and 2018 had more tangible form: Haydn Porteous had finished 11th at Sun City on the Sunshine Tour and 6th in Denmark the week before, however with Total Driving ranks of 8th and 4th from those two outings, it was fairly clear that his long game was pretty sharp. Similarly Andrea Pavan had finished 14th in Scotland then 6th the week before in Sweden before securing his first European Tour title, pounding greens in regulation both times.
Thomas Pieters was our last winner here with the 2020 event being cancelled, and he arrived with fairly mediocre form for a player who was best priced at 20/1. 20th at the Scottish Open on his penultimate start had been his best finish since March of that year, and 9th for SG Off the Tee and 15th for SG Tee to Green was a positive sign ahead of a return to a track he clearly enjoys:
- 2019: Thomas Pieters: MC/41/23/23/33/MC/MC/MC/20/67
- 2018: Andrea Pavan: 9/MC/52/MC/23/56/56/MC/14/6
- 2017: Haydn Porteous: MC/MC/38/MC/32/36/MC/11/17/6
- 2016: Paul Peterson: 25/48/35/73/50/MC/59/3/22/MC
- 2015: Thomas Pieters: 18/33/MC/MC/24/39/WD/60/33/35
- 2014: Jamie Donaldson: MC/38/30/MC/5/5/MC/MC/37/24
Thomas Pieters broke a string of results here where eventual winners had very little positive course form to speak of when he won here at Albatross for the second time:
- 2019: Thomas Pieters: MC/1/2/66/9
- 2018: Andrea Pavan: 39/MC
- 2017: Haydn Porteous: 60/MC
- 2016: Paul Peterson: MC
- 2015: Thomas Pieters: MC
- 2014: Jamie Donaldson: Debut
With 4 attackable par 5s and a potentially driveable par 4, this course sets up well for powerful players, however Paul Peterson proved in 2016 that there’s more than one way to navigate successfully around the Albatross and approach play excellence following a successful drive would seem to be the most likely way to unlock this course.
My selections are as follows: