Wednesday, 12 October 2016

British Masters 2016 - The Grove GC

Luke Donald will take on the role of Europeantour Tournament host this week where he will host the revised British Masters at The Grove GC, just outside London. He has a decent field to look after this week too, where Matthew Fitzpatrick will defend for the first time. He'll be joined by another Englishman who broke his duck last week, Tyrell Hatton, and it wouldn't be surprising to see another young Englishman prevail this week in a tournament that has been very kind to their compatriots over the years, and it may just signal a changing of the guard in English golf should the youth prevail once again. Andrew "Beef" Johnston, Andy Sullivan, Danny Willett, Tommy Fleetwood and Chris Wood tee it up also and not to forget the more slightly older players such as Ross Fisher, David Horsey, Richard Bland, and Lee Westwood as well. Eddie Pepperell, James Morrison & Chris Paisley may want to get in on the act here too, but my final ten man shortlist only sees three.

The Course

Located in Hertfordshire, The Grove hosted the WGC Championship back in 2006 where Tiger Woods romped to victory. The scoring that time was low and there is little to suggest that the Kyle Phillips designed, 7100 yard, Par-71 shouldn't see a similar birdiefest this week where emphasis seems to be pointing to those with a strong GIR and scrambling game. Upside down saucer-like greens will need to be negotiated here. I admit to not knowing much about the course, but looking at various photos and layouts, it does somewhat remind me of the Montgomerie Couse at Carton House but perhaps without the lightening greens and as many bunkers.

The Shortlist & Selections

From my ten-man shortlist this week, four players are currently ranked within the TOP20 for GIR on the 2016 European Tour. These are Thomas Aiken, Ross Fisher, Andrew Johnston and Benjamin Hebert. The winner could be anyone this week and the bookies have a bunch of players in around the same price this week, so its not easy finding the real value here especially as most of the players will tee it up here for the first time. I backed Ross in Munich three weeks only to see him beaten by Alexander Levy in a playoff and he backed that solid showing up with another runners up placing last week. A Londoner too, Ross might just get his reward for his recent form here but @ 20/1 he is a bit short. Or is he if we compare to the leading contenders? Two players on the shortlist that in my opinion represent some value are Thomas Aiken and Beef Johnston. The Englishman has been in the headlines a lot lately but is performing well alongside the razzmatazz and having secured a PGA Tour card for next season, he can add to his Open de Espana title that he won at Valderrama earlier this year by etching his name alongside many of of his fellow compatriots here. 

Thomas Aiken, last showed up on the European Tour at Himmerland in Denmark where he produced a T15 finish. He arrives here for just his 6th counting event of the season having finished T4th at the BMW PGA Championship, 13th at The Nedbank and 18th at The Alfred Dunhill Championship back in 2015. His form at Wentworth is solid having posted 3 TOP10s in his 7 visits, so perhaps he likes the courses in this part of the world that reward good approach play. Aiken though is always a risky bet, but form on the PGA Tour was OK-ish finishing 166th in the Fedex Cup making 12/25 and 3 TOP25s, before just missing out on a card through the tour playoffs. He is short of the required tournaments quota to qualify for a Europeantour card for next year but will satisfy that requirement by teeing it up here. The South African is very reliable tee to green and really should have won a lot more in his career to date. He has three European Tour titles to his name though. He is value @ 80.00 to win here and worth a bet in the TOP20 market @ 4.00
I'll settle on just the two picks from this week's shortlist

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0.50 pts win T.Aiken @ 80.00
3.00 pts TOP20 T.Aiken @ 4.00
1.25 pts e/w A. Johnston @ 34.00

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