The European Tour visits yet another new venue this week, with Close House on the outskirts of Newcastle staging the British Masters, writes Phil Casey.
Lee Westwood is taking his turn as tournament host and opted for the course to which he is attached, meaning the former world number one could have a distinct advantage.
Precious few other players will have experience of the 6,906-yard par-70, which could well offer up some low scores if the weather co-operates, especially with a strong field assembled.
Rory McIlroy’s failure to qualify for the Tour Championship means the four-time major winner was a late addition to the field, joining the likes of Masters champion Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Matt Fitzpatrick, Danny Willett and Martin Kaymer in making the trip to the north east.
McIlroy has been made the favourite despite his disappointing season and although the fact he is playing at all presumably means he is keen to get back on track, odds of 8/1 offer little appeal.
Garcia is more tempting at 10/1 on the back of a tie for 10th in Atlanta and with the motivation of chasing a first Race to Dubai title, but the first of our British Masters betting predictions is defending champion Alex Noren.
Noren has become a prolific winner over the last two seasons and four of his nine European Tour titles have come in Britain, including May’s BMW PGA Championship after a stunning final round of 62.
The Swede was sixth in defence of his Omega European Masters title on his last start and has been practising hard during his two-week break and he can be backed at odds of 14/1 to keep possession of the British Masters trophy on Sunday.
The record of tournament hosts is nothing to write home about, with Luke Donald missing the cut last year and Ian Poulter finishing 33rd at home course Woburn in 2015, but Westwood’s recent form is too good to ignore.
The 44-year-old, who was ninth in the Czech Masters and third in the KLM Open, believes another win could be around the corner and his course knowledge makes him a solid selection in the British Masters betting at 25/1.
Hartlepool native Graeme Storm is one of the few players to have experience of the venue and comes into the week on the back of a tie for third in the Portugal Masters.
That was Storm’s third event back since being sidelined by a wrist injury and he looks to be coming nicely into form, so a price of 80/1 makes him our third selection.
And at the same price, Lee Slattery can be added to our list of British Masters betting tips as he looks to reproduce the form which saw him finish second in the Czech Masters and sixth in Switzerland.
Best bets for the British Masters
Alex Noren @ 14/1
Lee Westwood @ 25/1
Graeme Storm @ 80/1
Lee Slattery @ 80/1
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