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British Masters 2022 Betting Tips: Lee Westwood can roll back the years at the Belfry

British Masters Tips: Lee Westwood features.
British Masters Tips: Lee Westwood features.

Following two enjoyable and exciting (barring yesterday’s dreadful playoff!) weeks in Spain, where we witnessed Pablo Larrazabal picking up his 2nd title of the year and the hugely talented Adri Arnaus following him last week, finally getting over the line for his belated breakthrough DP World Tour victory, it’s now time for the DPWT’s first stop in the UK this year. As we head to The Belfry’s Brabazon Course for the British Masters.

British Masters Tips

It’s the second year on the bounce this four-time Ryder Cup venue has hosted the British Masters, holding it for the first time in 13 years last year. This year’s edition will have to go some way to match the story of that event, which saw Richard Bland gain an emotional victory. His first DPWT title at the 478th time of asking and at 48 years of age.

The course did actually make its return in the covid hit 2020 schedule. When it hosted the UK Championship, which saw Rasmus Hojgaard pick up the second of his three DPWT titles. 

The Course   

The Brabazon Course is a par 72 measuring 7328 yards. This flat, tree-lined course is unique in so much as it’s a par 72 with twelve par 4s and just the three par 3s and par 5s. Those par 5s are where you have to make the most of your chances around here, as well as the drivable par 4 10th hole. As it can be a bit of a brute of a course excluding those holes.

The main difficulty here comes off-the-tee, with fairways quite narrow and hard to find for the most part. They’re protected by lush, thick rough and well placed bunkers to make them not only hard to find but penal should you miss them. 

Though get your ball in-play off the tee and you can attack these greens. Which will be even more receptive than usual this week, with rain forecast before the start and during the event.

The other defence of the course comes in the shape of water hazards. With around eight in play throughout the course. Putting further strain on the necessity of solid ball-striking, particularly pertinent around the greens but certainly in your mind on more than a couple of holes off-the-tee. 

This importance in quality approach play was certainly evident last year, as it was one of the main areas of the game tying together eventual winner, Richard Bland and the man he defeated in the playoff, Guido Migliozzi. Bland ranked 2nd in approach and 2nd in GIR for the week, whilst Migliozzi ranked 7th and 8th respectively. Look one place further at one of the players tied for 3rd, and you find further excellent iron play, as Finland’s Mikki Korhonen ranked 1st in approach and 3rd in GIR.

The other standout area from both last year was scrambling, with Bland ranking 1st and Migliozzi 2nd. In fact, of the top 5 last year, four ranked top 6 in scrambling, with 3rd place finishers Dave Coupland and Adrian Meronk ranking 3rd and 6th respectively.

Though the driver wasn’t overly important for any of those front runners, with none ranking top 10 off-the-tee, it was notable that nobody played poorly off-the-tee, as none of that top 5 ranked any worse than 27th with the driver for the week. 

The putter less conclusive, as Coupland and Meronk ranked 1st and 2nd respectively on the greens, but none of the other three ranked better than 35th. With winner, Richard Bland only ranking 54th on the putting surfaces for the week. 

Look further back to the 2020 UK Championship and we find further evidence of the need for quality approach play. With each player in the top four gaining strokes with the irons for the week, indeed it was the strongest part of winner, Rasmus Hojgaard’s game, as he gained 1.77 strokes a round for the week.  With 3rd place finishers, Martin Kaymer and Benjamin Hebert also excelling with the irons, gaining 1.91 and 2.38 strokes respectively.

In short, general strength tee-to-green is a necessity, though it’s the approach play that will set you apart from the rest.

Correlating Courses

Diamond Country Club, home of the Austrian Open is a stern tee-to-green test with plenty of water in-play. Last year’s British Masters winner, Richard Bland has gone well there before, with an 8th place finish and Mikko Korhonen, who finished 3rd behind Bland last year has an excellent record at the course. Winning there in 2018.

In addition to this, 2020 UK Championship runner-up, Justin Walters has a 3rd place finish in Austria, Scotland’s Craig Howie has top 5s in the two events, whilst Marcus Armitage and Jorge Campillo have top 10s in both.

The Dubai Desert Classic at Emirates Golf Club can provide further clues. It’s a strong test of ball-striking, with similarly thick rough, potential tree-trouble and water in-play throughout. Richard Bland was 2nd there earlier this year, losing out in a playoff to Viktor Hovland. Whilst Rasmus Hojgaard has a top 10 to his name there.

We can find further form-ties between the two courses from the likes of Martin Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Dean Burmester, to name but a few. With all possessing at least a top 10 across both venues.

Himmerland Golf, host of the Made in Denmark from 2014-2017 and then again in 2019, as well as host of the Made in Himmerland last year also stands out. Last year’s leaderboard there was awash with players who’ve gone well here at Belfry’s Brabazon Course over the last two years.

Winner, Bernd Wiesberger was 5th at the Brabazon Course in 2020. Then rather strikingly, in 2nd and 3rd we find Guido Migliozzi and Richard Bland, last year’s British Masters playoff opponents. 

The form-ties don’t stop there, with the English trio of Marcus Armitage, Laurie Canter and Jordan Smith all in the top 10 and all possessing some strong form here at this week’s venue.

Crans-sur-Sierre, the iconic host of the Omega European Masters often pops up when looking at these tree-lined tests. Further to this we find a course with narrow fairways, risk/reward par 4s and scorable par 5s.

Rasmus Hojgaard picked up his 3rd DPWT title there last year, following on from that 2nd victory coming here in 2020. Whilst Richard Bland has also recorded a top 5 in Switzerland. Marcus Armitage ties this form together again with top 10s in both events and is joined by Edoardo Molinari.

Finally I go a little more obscure with Pretoria Golf Club, which hosted the Tshwane Open in South Africa from 2015-2018. This tight, heavily tree-lined track has plenty of form-ties with the Brabazon. From Dean Burmester being a winner there and Mikko Korhonen possessing 2nd and 3rd place finishes. To other players like Jorge Campillo and Justin Walters being amongst a group of players who have top 5s there and have gone well here at the Belfry over the last two years. 

The Weather

As mentioned, we should be in for soft conditions here at The Belfry, with rain forecast up to the event and carrying over into Friday. Combine it with some colder temperatures and despite the wind not looking particularly troublesome right now, this event could be a bit of a slog. Potentially benefiting longer hitters with how little the ball will fly or run out.

The Field

We have a solid DP World Tour field teeing it up this week, even if a little underwhelming for such an event. Last week’s Catalunya winner, Adri Arnaus and last year’s British Masters winner, Richard Bland are the highest ranked players in the field, sitting just outside the world’s top 50. 

They are joined in the field by a few more illustrious names that have missed the last couple of weeks in Spain, with the English trio of Lee Westwood, Danny Willett and Sam Horsfield all descending on the Brabazon Course, Danny of course as tournament host. As well as popular Scot, Robert MacIntyre.

Selections

Though we have a field lacking in the very highest star quality, similarly to last week, this has created a super competitive and wide open market. Robert MacIntyre and Adrian Meronk head it at 22/1, followed by Jordan Smith and Sam Horsfield at 28s. 

Almost anyone can win this event this week, though of those market leaders there’s more than a feeling of “Struggles to win” about a few of them. Instead I’ll start with someone of whom the same can’t be said, as he’s one of the winning most players in the DP World Tour’s history, Lee Westwood.

Golf odds
Lee Westwood each-way (7 places)
33/1
Odds correct as of 2022-05-02 16:15 Odds subject to change.

We last saw Lee Westwood at last month’s Masters, where he put up an excellent 14th place finish. This was his best finish of the year in which he’s been consistent without really threatening. His previous best efforts a 20th place finish in Abu Dhabi in his first start of the year and a 21st place finish in the Saudi International.

Most encouraging about that Masters performance, besides the obvious quality show in elite company, was that he finally found something with his irons, something that had eluded him for much of the year, ranking 18th in approach for the week and producing his best performance since that 20th in Abu Dhabi all the way back in January. 

In addition to this was a superb performance on the greens, where he ranked 2nd in the field putting up his best SG stats since his Abu Dhabi win in 2020. An area of his game that has often been a glaring weakness. 

Obviously the concern is that after a month off he may be a little rusty and that he may find himself unable to replicate the quality of performance he showed at Augusta. Though he has shown an ability to go well fresh over recent years. The most notable of those would be the aforementioned victory in Abu Dhabi in 2020, the first event of the in which he won following a near two month absence. Also, at the end of that year, he finished 2nd in the DP World Tour Championship following around six weeks off. I think that in his advancing years, coming into an event fresh is probably more of a positive than a negative.

There’s the added bonus with Westwood that he’s a past champion here. You do have to go back to 2007, when this course previously hosted the British Masters. A week in which he produced a superb display, beating Ian Poulter by 5 strokes. He then finished runner-up the following year in 2008 and more recently, showed he still has the ability to play the course well, when finishing 17th in the UK Championship in 2020.

In addition to this, Westwood has an excellent record in the Dubai Desert Classic, where he’s twice finished runner-up amongst numerous other top 10s and also has a victory in the European Masters, though that was back in the 90s, he’s gone well in more recent times, finishing 4th in 2016.

Westwood knows how to win as much as anyone in this field. If able to transfer the improved approach play he found at Augusta, he can win here this week, 15 years after he first conquered The Belfry’s Brabazon Course.

Ryan Fox each-way (10 places)
28/1
Odds correct as of 2022-05-02 16:15 Odds subject to change.

It was a frustrating week as a Ryan Fox follower last week, as he not only fell out of contention but out of the places. Though there was enough in that performance, specifically the quality of his ball-striking, to tempt me back in this week and he can take advantage of the rain-softened conditions at the Brabazon Course.

Fox continued his excellent year last week at PGA Catalunya with a 9th place finish. This following a 15th place finish the week prior in Spain and both coming after he took a two month break following his classy victory in the Ras Al Khaimah Classic.

Few players have played as well as Fox tee-to-green these last two weeks. He ranked 22nd T2G in the ISPS Handa Championship at Infinitum and was the 3rd best player T2G last week in Catalunya.

Both weeks he’s produced excellent approach play, ranking 13th with the irons at Infinitum and 6th last week in Catalunya. Though it was the step up in approach that stood out most last week, going from ranking outside the top 50 off-the-tee at Infinitum, he ranked 10th last week on a tricky driving course. 

The short-game has remained inconsistent, which is what you pay for when on Fox, but I think the quality of his ball-striking far outweighs any concerns I may have about his short-game this week.

He’s played here once before, when finishing 28th in the UK Championship in 2020. Though he shot three rounds in the 70s, his 5-under 67 in round two was the joint-best round of the day and underlined his ability to play well around this course.

A top 10 in the European Masters and a generally strong record in the Dubai Desert Classic adding to the optimism for Fox this week. As well as a strong record in the UK.

Away from the frustration of missing out on the payout last week, that was another quality performance from the big-hitting New Zealander. If he can bring that same level of ball-striking to this test he will be able to score well around what is expected to be a receptive course.

Marcus Armitage each-way (10 places)
50/1
Odds correct as of 2022-05-02 16:15 Odds subject to change.

Marcus Armitage missed the cut last week, his first since the opening event of the year in Abu Dhabi. Though such has been the consistent strength of his performances this year that I’m willing to forgive him that and think he can bounce back this week, at a course at which he holds a good record.

Following that MC in Abu Dhabi at the start of the year, Armitage responded by making his next seven cuts on the bounce, with five top 20s amongst them and two top 10s rating as his best results, when finishing 5th in the Qatar Masters and 9th in the Ras Al Khaimah Classic.

That excellent run of results ended last week at PGA Catalunya but I’m willing to forgive him that. Mainly because it was his first start in over a month, and it can’t be a coincidence that his only other MC this year came after an absence. 

Further to this, though he didn’t exactly set the world on fire in either round last week, he did improve with the ball-striking in round two, going from losing strokes in both approach and off-the-tee in round one, to gaining strokes in both areas in round two.

Though excelling with his approach play, where he ranks 10th for the year as well as 19th for GIR, Armitage is solid overall tee-to-green, ranking 19th this season. Also a perfectly good scrambler, with a ranking of 54th, he ticks the two main boxes for me this week, making it easy to overlook his deficiencies with the putter.

Armitage has played here in both of the last two years and though missing the cut last year, showed his suitability to the test in the UK Championship in 2020, when finishing 7th. 

In addition to this he has plenty of quality form at correlating courses, possessing finishes of 4th in Austria, 7th in the European Masters and 8th at Himmerland.

Armitage looked like he needed last week to blow away a few cobwebs following a 5-week break. I expect him to be back to his ball-striking best this week and he can call on that 7th in 2020 to guide him to a 2nd DPWT title at home in the UK.

Open Championship odds
Haotong Li each-way (6 places)
66/1
Odds correct as of 2022-05-02 16:15 Odds subject to change.

Haotong Li is the first of a Chinese duo for me this week in the West Midlands. He’s continuing to show positive signs this year and as one of the most talented players on the tour, has to be considered a big danger if looking like getting back to anywhere near his best. 

Those positive signs have seen Haotong miss just two cuts in eight starts in 2022. He started his year with an excellent 12th place finish on the PGA Tour in the Sony Open and has since put up two top 6s on the DPWT. In the form of a 6th place finish at Infinitum two weeks ago in Spain and was 3rd in the Ras Al Khaimah Championship. 

At his best a few years ago, Haotong was a player who shone off-the-tee and on the greens. With that it’s no surprise to see his return to form coinciding with rediscovered quality in those two areas of his game, ranking 12th in putting and 40th off-the-tee so far this season. 

This has very much been on show in his latest two starts in Spain. Li ranked 3rd in putting and 11th off-the-tee two weeks ago in the ISPS Handa. Following that by ranking 9th off-the-tee and 26th on the greens last week in Catalunya. 

He did show some quality approach play earlier in the season and though he’s not quite as dialled in as that at the moment, he’s still hitting plenty of greens and should benefit from the more receptive surfaces this week.

Haotong is forgiven an uninspiring record at the course. His 31st place finish in the UK Championship in 2020 was solid enough, the putter ultimately stopping him from going better there, something which he’s now in a much better place with. Whilst his missed cut last year is easily dismissed, with his game in a terrible place at the time. 

Instead I choose to draw confidence from his victory in the Dubai Desert Classic in 2018, where he famously bested Rory McIlroy in an incredible performance, highlighting the potential he had at the time and still possesses.

At just 26 years of age, Li still has time on his side to realise that potential and this one time 3rd place finisher in the Open Championship can complete that full return to form this week, by winning at The Belfry.

Ashun Wu each-way (10 places)
80/1
Odds correct as of 2022-05-02 16:15 Odds subject to change.

Ashun Wu won for us in the Kenya Open almost two months ago now with an electric short-game performance that was complimented by quality approach play. He has maintained a good level of form since and can go in for the second time this year at a course I believe will suit his game. 

Since that victory, Wu has played five times, with his only missed cut coming two weeks ago in the ISPS Handa. In his other four starts, he’s finished in the top 26 three times, with that excellent approach play and putting that helped him to the win in Kenya continuing to shine. 

He ranks 18th on tour this season in approach, 35th in putting and 39th in scrambling. Though the stats will tell you he loses strokes off-the-tee, he’s very much accuracy over power and a ranking of 48th in driving accuracy is perfectly respectable. 

This all adds up to a player who makes fewer bogeys than most on tour, ranking 7th in bogey avoidance and compliments it excellently by being in the top 50 for birdies. A collection of stats that points to a player whose current game should be well suited to the test that awaits at the Brabazon Course.

That was certainly on show last year when Wu finished 21st on his first try at the course. With a superb third round 66 his best effort of the week. His results were solid enough before that event last year but he wasn’t showing anywhere near the form or consistency in approach that he’s showing currently and the thought is, if able to add that to the rest of his game that fired here last year, he can improve on that performance.

Further to this, Wu is a past winner in the hugely correlating Austrian Open, as well as possessing another top 10. With two top 10s apiece in both the Dubai Desert Classic and European Masters strengthening his cause further.

Wu is in excellent form and won with great confidence and composure in Kenya. If bringing that top class iron game to the Brabazon this year, he can improve on the 21st place finish last year and pick up a 2nd title of the year. 

Lorenzo Gagli each-way (10 places)
150/1
Odds correct as of 2022-05-02 16:15 Odds subject to change.

I’m going to finish this week with Lorenzo Gagli. He’s often shown a proclivity for performing well at these tighter, tree-lined venues and produced his best finish of the year last week in Catalunya, following a consistent start to 2022. 

After a really poor 2021, that saw Gagli miss 19 of 29 cuts and produce zero finishes inside the top 10. He’s managed to turn it around this year.

In his six starts in 2022, Gagli has missed just one cut and was rewarded for the consistency he’s shown with a 9th place finish at PGA Catalunya last week. Predominantly aided by the putter, where he ranked 10th for the week but his game was in solid form all round, ranking 3rd in driving accuracy and he also scrambled well.

Though it’s the approach play I’m particularly taken with, with him gaining strokes in four consecutive events for the first time since the end of 2019/start of 2020. This seeing him rank 42nd in approach for the season. Combined with the quality putting, straight driving and quality scrambling, he’s shown recently, he looks set for a strong performance this week.

His only spin around here came with a missed cut last year, though his form at the time was much worse. Instead I take encouragement from his excellent 2nd in the European Masters in 2019 and his victory in the Kenya Open in 2018, played on the tight, tree-lined Muthaiga, coincidentally the same place Ashun Wu tasted victory earlier this year. Gagli also in possession of strong results both in Austria and in the Dubai Desert Classic.

Gagli is a long shot, but his game has been trending in the right direction in recent weeks and he looks a lively outsider in this wide open field.

Golf Betting Tips
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