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If two 49-year-olds are close to the head of the betting for this week’s Betfred British Masters at The Belfry, it doesn’t say a lot about the state of European golf right now, nor of our chances in next year’s Ryder Cup in Rome.
But looking it from a more positive viewpoint, it underlines the longevity and enduring quality of their swings that Lee Westwood and Richard Bland are still being thought of as prospective winners of the first DP World tournament on British soil in 2022.
Cinderella man Bland of course provided one of the great stories of last year when this long-serving perennial bridesmaid won this very tournament - after 477 defeats - at 48 years 101 days. That heartwarming breakthrough did such wonders for his self-esteem that he has played some inspired golf since, leading the US Open for 36 holes, finishing runner-up in the Dubai Desert Classic and winning his round-robin group at the all-star WGC Dell Match Play.
True, Sunday’s 66th place in Catalonia wasn’t the warm-up he had in mind but the old fox will be trying like hell to cling on to his most prized golfing possession on the course where it all happened for him a year ago.
Westwood’s pedigree is much loftier with 25 victories in Europe alone, one of them coming in the 2007 British Masters on this week’s iconic Alliss/Thomas layout, now a 7238-yard par 72, where Europe finally got their hands on the Ryder Cup in 1985.
He also went close to making a successful Masters defence in 2008 (edged out in a playoff by Gonzo Fernandez-Castano) but, ancient as he is, Westwood isn’t old enough to have played in that historic Ryder match 37 years ago but did play a big part in the last one there, in 2002, when he and Sergio Garcia paired up for three big wins.
As 2020 British Masters host at Close House, racing fan and owner Westwood has close ties with this tournament and The Belfry is only an hour’s drive from his Worksop base. On his 14th at the Masters last time out, the world No. 58 must have a great each-way shout of becoming, at 49 and 14 days, the oldest British winner on tour.
After his first tour win at the 85th attempt in Catalonia on Sunday, Spaniard Adri Arnaus has become, at 52nd, the highest world ranking in a field that could have done with a few bigger names coming over from the US to give the British summer a classier lift-off.
Arnaus, twice a playoff loser in the past year, made it third time lucky in an extra-time marathon when South Africa’s Oliver Bekker finally succumbed with a bogey in near-darkness, clinching a Spanish home-country double following Pablo Larrazabal’s Tarragona triumph the previous Sunday.
As we saw with Larrazabal, winning two in a row is mighty difficult but now he had done it once, Arnaus has got the taste for it and could become a multiple champion if not immediately then in the not-too-distant future.
This week I am more interested in Hennie Du Plessis who finished like a train to finish sixth to Arnaus, thus continuing a blistering run of form following third in Tarragona, sixth at Peconwood, seventh in the Joburg Open and runner-up on the Challenge Tour close to home in Linpopo. Usually a fast starter but weak finisher, the well-nourished 25-year-old son of a South African tobacco farmer did it the other way round in Catalonia with that closing 64 and is a winner waiting to happen.
In a 25/1-the-field competition it’s wide open and ambitious Scot Robert MacIntyre won’t be far away. Top 12 in two Majors and eighth in this tournament last year, “BobbyMac” has promised more than he’s delivered but the talent is definitely there, particularly with the flat stick. Ninth at the Ras Al Khaimah Classic is his best European effort this campaign, while on the PGA Tour a 15th at Riviera and 23rd at Augusta prove he can mix it with the best.
With the Hojgaard twins again disappointing, Thomas Detry swinging better than he scores and Laurie Canter unconvincing when a winning opportunity presented itself, the best of the rest is lofty Pole Adrian Meronk. Third on his two latest outings and third, just a shot out of the playoff that Bland won at The Belfry last time, he’s overdue.
South African bomber Dean Burmester, tournament host Danny Willett and a young Brit in Sam Horsfield who, like MacIntyre, is finding it hard living up to his early exploits.
Horsfield blew a big chance in the final group of the Tour Championship finale in Dubai in November and we haven’t seen much of him since he made a bright start to the year with a fourth and 12th in the UAE. He resurfaced in the New Orleans pairs event, finishing 18th with Matt Wallace, ahead of defending champions Cam Smith/Marc Leishman and higher-rated English pair Tyrrell Hatton/Willett were behind them.
British Masters Golf Betting Tips 2022
- 2pts each-way Hennie du Plessis at 40/1 (Betfred) 8 places
- 1.5pts each-way Lee Westwood at 28/1 (William Hill) 6 places
- 1pt each-way Robert MacIntyre at 22/1 (Bet365) 5 places
- 1pt each-way Adrian Meronk at 22/1 (Betfair) 7 places
- 0.5pt each-way Sam Horsfield at 28/1 (William Hill) 6 places
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Celebrating my 50th year tipping and writing about golf. Tipped more than 800 winners (and more than 8000 losers!). First big winner Lee Trevino at 8-1, 1972 Open at Muirfield. Biggest win £40 each-way Ernie Els at 80-1 and 50-1, 2012 Open. Most memorable: Giving the 1-2-3 at 33-1, 50-1, 33-1 out of 4 tips from a field of 180 in 2006 Pebble Beach Pro-Am. According to one bookmaker “Undoubtedly one of the greatest tipping performances of all time”. Lowest handicap 9 Present handicap 35.6. Publications tipped for: Sporting Life, Racing Post, Racing&Football Outlook, Golf World, Golf Weekly, Golf Monthly, Fitzdares Times. Check our Jeremy's latest tips at our Golf Betting tips home page
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