European Tour: What to Watch for at the British Masters
The European Tour travels south from St. Andrews this week for the re-established British Masters at Woburn in Buckinghamshire, England. Home favourite Ian Poulter is tournament host.
The British Masters was one of the premier events on the European Tour schedule until it fell off the calendar after the 2008 season. First contested in 1946, it has been won by many greats of the game including Peter Thomson, Tony Jacklin, Nick Faldo, Seve Ballesteros and Colin Montgomerie.
The last instalment of the competition took place at The Belfry in 2008. In that event, Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez Castano beat Lee Westwood of England in a playoff.
The tournament will be contested over the striking Marquess course. Opened for play in 2000, this is the youngest of the three layouts at Woburn but it has already earned a reputation as one of England’s finest inland tracks. Carved through towering trees, the fairways sweep elegantly to large, sloping putting surfaces.
Weather in the UK during autumn can be unpredictable but the forecast for this week looksfair. With luck, the tournament will run smoothly, without disruptions.
Four things to watch for at the British Masters:
1. The tournament host will be Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter. He will take it in turns with Lee Westwood and Luke Donald to host this event. All three Englishmen will look to find some late-season form as all have endured a disappointing 2015. Poulter is currently ranked 48th on the Race to Dubai standings while Lee Westwood is 33rd and Luke Donald 29th.
2. Graeme McDowell is another player looking to salvage his season this week. The 2010 U.S. Open champion is down in 63rd place on the Race to Dubai standings. With the top-60 qualifying for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship, the Northern Irishman will be aiming for a decent showing this week. With a £3,000,000 purse, there’s a good chance for those competing to make a leap up the ranking.
3. Paul Dunne has an invitation for this week. The young Irishman has had an incredible season – he led the Open Championship after three rounds at St. Andrews and was then part of the victorious GB&I Walker Cup team at Royal Lytham. Last week in the Dunhill Links Championship – his first European Tour event as a professional – the 22-year-old finished in a tie for 19th place and picked up €47,500.
4. The home players will be hoping to put on a decent showing for the fans. English players particularly worth watching are: Danny Willett, who can overtake Rory McIlroy at the top of the Race to Dubai standings with a win this week; David Horsey, who has been enjoying an excellent second half of 2015 with a win and a third place to his name; and Chris Wood, who finished last week in St. Andrews with a 65.