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Out of the Rough: The British Masters (2023)

Following a thrilling event at the BMW International Open that saw South Africia’s Thriston Lawrence come from behind to top Joost Luiten, the DP World Tour turns its attention to The British Masters

This event was first staged in 1946 as the Dunlop Masters. It was played until 2008 until the event was lost from the schedule after Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano won at this week’s venue, the Belfry, in 2008.

The event returned in 2015 when Ian Poulter hosted the event at Woburn.

Since this event’s return we’ve seen the likes of Luke Donald, Lee Westwood (twice,) Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood and Danny Willet (twice) host this prestigious event.

This year’s installment will be hosted by Sir Nick Faldo. Faldo received Knighthood in 2009 for his services to golf. Faldo is a three time Masters winner and three time Open Champion.

This too is a new place in the schedule for The British Masters as the previous two editions were held in May.

The Field

Justin Rose, who is taking a break from the PGA TOUR, headlines this week’s field that includes many of Europe’s top players who continue to fight for a chance to make Donald’s Ryder Cup team later this year in Rome.

Thorbjorn Olesen is the defending champion of this event who used a dramatic eagle-birdie finish to claim victory. Olesen’s victory a year ago ended a four-year winless run.

Other Ryder Cup hopefuls playing this week include Adrian Meronk, Victor Perez and Jorge Campillo.

Min Woo Lee, who recently recorded a top-five at the U.S. Open, is back on the DP World Tour side of things this week.

Other talented golfers playing this week include Ewen Ferguson, Robert MacIntyre, Rasmus Hojgaard and Adrian Meronk.

This event and venue typically sees the cream-of-the-crop compete for a victory.

Richard Bland, the 2021 winner, is by some distance the biggest outsider to win here this century.

This was once an event dominated by Englishmen but in the last four years, we’ve seen a Dane, an Italian and a Swede take the title.

In addition to the winners from the aforementioned Denmark, Italy and Sweden, there have been victories for players from New Zealand, Australia, the USA, France, Spain, Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

Hojgaard won this event, at the time the UK Championship, in 2020 at Belfry and is back in this week’s field as well.

The Course

This week’s venue is The Belfry in Wishaw, Warwickshire, England. It plays as a Par-72 at 7,328 yards.

The Brabazon course at The Belfry was designed by Peter Alliss and Dave Thomas and first came to prominence when it hosted the Ryder Cup.

The parkland course is nearly unrecognizable from its Ryder Cup days with the then, hundreds of saplings, now turned into fully grown trees.

The Belfry is best described as a relatively flat course that features tree-lined, narrow fairways.

Water is in play on seven holes, most notably at the short, driveable par-four tenth. Last year the hole played to an average of 3.97 strokes.

The tenth is arguably the most memorable hole on the course, described as a risk-and–reward hole which can be reached from the tee.

Another notable hole is the ‘brutal’ finishing hole. The 18th is a par-four featuring a drive over water and an approach over water as well. The green is then three-tiered.

This final hole offers plenty of chances for the event to be won or lost and can be the host for a dramatic finish.

The greens are Poa Annua and are fairly small on average. The larger greens feature tiers and undulations, placing a premium on putting and scrambling.

The Weather

As of the time of writing this, there is little-to-no chance of precipitation in the forecast for the four days. Highs are set to remain in the high 60’s across all four days. Of course, playing in England, winds will be a factor. They are set to range from ten miles-per-hour on Thursday and increase to 14 miles-per-hour come Sunday. In all, the weather will be what we expect out of an English based event.

Key Stats

  • Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)

  • Scrambling

  • Bogey Avoidance

  • Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (SG: OTT) / Driving Accuracy

  • Strokes Gained: Putting (SG: PUTT)

  • Greens in Regulation Percentage (GIR%)

  • Strokes Gained: Around the Green (SG: ATG)

  • Par Four Average Scoring

  • Birdie or Better Percentage

Betting Card

Min Woo Lee (+1000)

As it’s shown in the past, it’s usually the cream-of-the-crop that rises here at The British Masters and I believe Lee to be the best golfer in this week’s field. I don’t have the DP World Tour statistics to back this selection up as Lee spends most of his time over in the States on the PGA TOUR but it’s evident that he’ll match up well here. Dating back to May 21st at the PGA Championship, Lee has been one of the hottest golfers on the planet. He placed T18th at the PGA Championship at the daunting Oak Hills and T40th at the Charles Schwab Challenge. This is where he really turned it on, placing T5th at the U.S. Open which is oftentimes touted as the hardest challenge in the world of golf and T9th at last week’s Travelers Championship. It’s obvious why I love Lee this week. I’ll be riding three units on Lee this week!

Alexander Bjork (+2200)

When it comes to DP World Tour regulars, Bjork tops my model. He is currently tops on Tour when it comes to bogey avoidance, third in both scrambling and par four average scoring, seventh in SG: PUTT, eighth in driving accuracy, ninth in SG: APP, 17th in GIR%, 21st in SG: ATG and 36th in birdie or better percentage. His off-the-tee ranking of 127th is a bit concerning but the accuracy is there as previously mentioned. He too is in some great form. He placed T9th in his last outing at the Volvo Car Scandinavian Mixed. He also placed T6th at the Porsche European Open, T4th at the Soudal Open and fourth at the DS Automobiles Italian Open. That’s four top tens and two top fives in his last five outings. With the likes of Lee, Rose and Meronk in this week’s field, we get a quality price in Bjork at +2200. I’ll be placing two units on him this week.

Thorbjorn Olesen (+2800)

This is my final suggestion this week. I’ll be playing a smaller card than normal with the belief that it’ll be one of the top tier guys who win this week. I’m going with the defending champion here in Olesen. He is currently fifth on Tour in scrambling, eighth in bogey avoidance, 14th in SG: APP, 15th in birdie or better percentage, 17th in both SG: OTT and par four average scoring, 21st in SG: PUTT, 27th in GIR%, 52nd in SG: ATG and 56th in driving accuracy. In all, he’s above average in each of the ten statistical categories I took into consideration this week. His game obviously measures up to this course as he is the defending champion. Olesen has a victory on the season back at the Thailand Classic in February. He also placed third more recently at the Soudal Open in May. He also has finishes such as a T4th at the Ras Al Khaimah Championship and T6th at the Hero Indian Open. I’ll be placing a unit on Olesen this week.

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