2016 British Masters – The Grove, from Thursday 13th October live on Sky Sports 4
Last weeks golf
A T7 for Soren Kjeldsen meant we missed out on a 50/1 (12.5) EW payout by one place. To be fair, the amiable Dane was never inside the top 6 so it wasn’t too much of a disappointment. Graeme McDowell finished a couple of shots further back, but starting with a round of +1, he was never really in it.
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Missing out on winner Tyrrell Hatton, who opened at 80s with one firm, feels like a big miss as he is someone I have followed closely since he placed for me at 160/1 at Crans three years ago. I did look pretty hard at him, but with two MC’s on his only two outings at the Alfred Dunhill links and my perceived requirement for the winner to have had to had at least one top 20 here, it made sense to leave him out – kind of!
Still, lessons learnt. We move on….
Tournament History & Field
Previously known as the Dunlop Masters, the British Masters was founded in 1946 and was an annual event up until 2008 when it dropped off the European Tour schedule. The 2015 return was hugely successful, partly due to its significant financial backing and support from sponsors Sky Sports, who again back the event this year. Last year the event was hosted by Ian Poulter at Woburn – this years edition will be held at The Grove – with Luke Donald taking over hosting duties for the week.
We have another star-studded field this year with Donald being joined by fellow Englishmen Danny Willett, Lee Westwood, last years champion Matthew Fitzpatrick and Chris Wood. Other leading lights include Graeme McDowell, Shane Lowry, Bernd Wiesberger, Alex Noren plus last weeks winner Tyrrell Hatton.
The Grove opened for business in 2003 and has hosted one major professional event – the 2006 WGC American Express Championship. Located just outside central London in leafy Hertfordshire, the tournament host describes the course as being “A parkland course, and it has some elevation changes. It is always presented in great condition. It has a really nice variety of some longer holes, and some driveable par-fours. I think it will also be a fun course for the spectators, so it will be a great venue for the 2016 British Masters supported by Sky Sports.”
At a touch over 7,100 yards with three par 5’s and four par 3’s, it looks that scoring will be low. The drivable par 4’s Donald spoke about appear to centre around the 1st and the 10th, but both are over 340 yards and look very long to be reachable in one shot at this time of year in the UK. Perhaps they will fiddle around with the tee blocks, but I’d take this comment with a pinch of salt.
Holes 3 and 4 could be tough – the 3rd is a monster par 4 at just under 500 yards whereas the 4th is a par 3 coming in at 226 yards. My gut feeling is there will be plenty of scoring opportunities coming in, with holes 13 thru 18 looking like they could be taken apart with anyone peppering greens and putting well.
Originally the forecast was pretty good, but that has changed over the past 48 hours. Now Thursday looks to be particularly breezy, peaking at 18mph by mid afternoon. Friday morning appears to now be set for some wet stuff with a 65% chance of rain. There could be an early-late draw bias at this stage given that winds looks more consistent through Friday. Saturday looks easily the best of three days with Sunday again looking damp.
Recent British Masters Winners
2015 – Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG)
2008 – Gonzo Fernandez Castano (ESP)
2007 – Lee Westwood (ENG)
2006 – Johan Edfors (SWE)
2005 – Thomas Bjorn (DEN)
2006 WGC Leaderboard (held at The Grove)
1st – Tiger Woods (-23)
T2 – Ian Poulter (-15)
T2 – Adam Scott (-15)
4th – Jim Fuyrk (-14)
5th – Ernie Els (-13)
It was only four weeks and two events ago that the flying Dutchman was shooting a final round 63 on the way to winning his home title, the KLM Open. Since then a T38 in Italy (which did include a 67 and a 66) and a MC last week in Scotland has seen Joost’s price climb to 40/1 – making him a must back this week. He has course form round inland parkland courses that can be effected by strong winds such as the Diamond Country Club and Valdarrama. He’s also won on Bristish soil previously at Celtic Manor and has other top 5 finishes in Scotland and Ireland. Joost certainly offers a lot more value than the likes of Wiesberger, Lowry and Wood who are considerably shorter in this weeks market for some reason.
Since placing the bet I’m slightly wary of the wind that has forecast which might not be to Alex’s high ball flights favour. But it was only three weeks ago that Levy gave this column a win at the same 50/1 price – I cannot fathom why he should be so big this week. A T63 last week at the Dunhill might be to do with it, but links golf has never been the Frenchman’s strength. On a course that could suit those mid-irons, there are few better in the business than Levy at tearing apart a short-ish, soft golf course – if he stays straight off the tee.
Canizares is someone that always catches my eye when it comes to set ups like this, yet I surprised myself to find I haven’t backed him anywhere for over twelve months. The Spaniard’s game has been in fine order recently, including a T7 in Italy and a T4 in Holland in the past few weeks. Prior to that was a T24 at Crans which should have been so much better, were in not for a poor final round of 72. The 2014 Trophee Hassan champion looks ready to win again, and with some fine performances down the road at Wentworth including a T10 last year, I reckon this week could be a winning one for Alejandro.
The three-time European Tour winner makes a welcome return this week after several events on America’s web.com secondary tour. A T24 last time out followed two MC’s and a T5 at the Olympics, suggesting his game is slightly off the boil at present. Last year he finished T5 at Woburn and has a win on British soil – the 2015 Paul Lawrie Matchplay. Kiradech is a fine wind exponent and a great scrambler. In possession of a T15 at this years Masters at Augusta, I believe this weeks price is pretty disrespectful of a multiple champion whose presence on the web.com recently shows a desire to make it to the top.
Depending on the draw (due Tuesday PM) I may add one or two more – follow twitter for any updates (@herefordrich)
Prices correct at time of writing.