Some of the biggest names in world golf are in the north-east for the 2017 British Masters, but our writers are swerving Rory, Sergio, Lee and co in favour of bigger-priced options. And with Betfair paying down to seventh place on each-way bets we are offering a septet of bets for your consideration...
"Following two third-places and a fifth in his last three starts, I was surprised to see Eddie Pepperell chalked up as a 35/1 chance this week. Looking back at those three tournaments, in Portugal, Holland and the Czech Republic, the Englishman has hit nine sub-70 rounds in a row and, with plenty of birdies likely to be on offer at Close House, he'll be confident of continuing that run."
Dan Thomas: Back Eddie Pepperell @ 35/1
*EW Terms: 1/5 Odds | 7 Places
Dan Geraghty: Back Haotong Li @ 50/1
I've long thought China's Haotong Li is destined for the very top of the game. The 22-year-old had a remarkable record in Asia at an incredibly young age but has understandably taken time to adapt in Europe. This year Li has made huge steps forward in his career. I witnessed him qualify for his first US Open - shooting 64 on the tough old course at Walton Heath; he then went on to claim third place at this year's Open Championship, a result that saw him climb to his highest world ranking to date, 63rd. The young star took a month off before returning in Portugal last week (following a 26 hour flight from China), where he blew the cobwebs away with a 25th place finish, closing with a 66 on Sunday. All being well, he should improve again this week.
Paul Krishnamurty: Back Marc Warren @ 90/1
Having finally turned around a poor season with second place in Portugal, Marc Warren is well worth following. Like so many at this time of year, the Scot appears to be rising to the money list challenge and he really needs to. Even after last week's big cheque, he's right on the Race to Dubai cut line in 100th place. One of the finest putters on the tour - only Paul Dunne has a superior putting average over the past 12 months - Warren should be in his element in what is expected to be a birdie-fest. An excellent record in big UK tournaments must also bode well for his chances.
Steve Rawlings: Back Lucas Bjerregaard @ 50/1
Lucas Bjerregaard's game was strong in almost all facets during last week's Portugal Masters win, and a repeat of that sort of play will ensure he goes very close to doubling up. No one putted better than the Dane in Vilamoura, and that will be a real weapon in what is likely to be a birdie-fest, but he was also hugely impressive off the tee and the 50/1 available with the Betfair Sportsbook is generous enough to tempt me in. Winning consecutive events is incredibly hard of course but Bjerregaard has youth on his side and I fancy he has enough in the tank to put up a bold bid.
Mike Norman: Back Graeme Storm @ 100/1
Born in Hartlepool, a 30-minute drive away from Newcastle, Graeme Storm is effectively a local lad this week and has been looking forward to the British Masters for a long time. His second half of the season has been geared towards this event so we shouldn't worry too much about his recent break from the game due to a minor wrist injury as he planned to take some time off anyway following a busy, and successful, first half of the season. He knows the area well, will have plenty of support, and has played quite a few practice rounds at Close House previously, which all bodes well. But the 39-year-old is also a high-class golfer who seems to have taken his game to a new level since his much-publicised reprieve 12 months ago when he very nearly lost his tour card. A play-off victory over Rory McIlroy at the South African Open was the highlight, and last week he showed his game to be in great shape when finishing an excellent third at the Portugal Masters.
Joe Dyer: Back Scott Hend @ 66/1
We are all guessing a touch this week given Close House is a new track that's never been seen before on the European Tour so I will put my faith in a European Tour winner who has hit good form and may be a touch of value. Scott Hend was last seen finishing runner-up to Matthew Fitzpatrick at the Omega European Masters, just edged out in a playoff, but can be backed at more than treble the young Englishman price's this week. Statistically, Hend is not an accurate driver of the ball yet he has twice finished second at Crans Sur Sierre which is a short-ish par 70 - just like Close House - so I wouldn't rule him out on those grounds. Pictures of the course show more than a few tree-lined, Wentworth-esque fairways and this two-time Tour winner has proven his ability to play that track, holding the lead after three rounds in 2016 (although he faded to 15th after the final day). All in all, I am happy to take a chance on the Aussie at a decent price.
Dan Thomas: Back Eddie Pepperell @ 35/1
Following two third-places and a fifth in his last three starts, I was surprised to see Eddie Pepperell chalked up as a 35/1 chance this week. Looking back at those three tournaments, in Portugal, Holland and the Czech Republic, the Englishman has hit nine sub-70 rounds in a row and, with plenty of birdies likely to be on offer at Close House, he'll be confident of continuing that run. Pepperell, who finished 22nd in last year's British Masters, has made some significant strides in 2017 - Greens in Regulation up from 66% in 2016 to 72%, and Driving Accuracy up from 49% to 60% - and with seven places on offer on the Sportsbook, I'm more than happy to have a slice of the 35/1.
Adam Baylis: Back Shane Lowry @ 28/1
Course background on 'The Colt' is somewhat thin on the ground but it seems this is expected to be pretty easy going with the weather set fair for the week. As such, finding some each-way value in a strong field isn't entirely straight-forward but the 28/1 available about Shane Lowry looks well worth taking. There were real signs of life in Portugal last week when he fired in a 64 on Friday and he's been pretty consistent when venturing back to European shores this year, clocking up a T20 at the Irish Open and a T6 at the PGA Championship. If he can back up last week's performance with some consistency through the weekend he obviously has the pedigree to make a real impact; especially when you factor in the issues surrounding some of the market leaders.
2017 Season P/L to date: -£346.84
- KLM Open, Eddie Pepperell @ 40/1 - PLACE (Mike)
- Czech Masters, Eddie Pepperell @ 50/1 - PLACE (Paul)
- Made In Denmark, Chris Paisley @ 110/1 - PLACE (Joe)
- European Open, Zander Lombard @ 150/1 - PLACE (Steve)
- The Open, Brooks Koepka @ 25/1 - PLACE (Dan)
- The Open, Marc Leishman @ 55/1 - PLACE (Andy O'Rourke)
- Scottish Open, Anthony Wall @ 200/1 - PLACE (Paul)
- US Open, Brooks Koepka @ 40/1 - WIN (Dave Tindall)
- Lyoness Open, Dylan Frittelli @ 40/1 - WIN (Paul)
- Lyoness Open, Mikko Korhonen @ 50/1 - PLACE (Joe)
- Nordea Masters, Chris Wood @ 33/1 - PLACE (Joe)
- Nordea Masters, Thorbjorn Olesen @ 50/1 - PLACE (Steve)
- Open de Portugal, Mark Foster @ 50/1 - PLACE (Mike)
- Golf Sixes, Denmark @ 10/1 - WIN (Dan)
- Golf Sixes, Scotland @ 12/1 - PLACE (Paul)
- Volvo China Open, Dylan Frittelli @ 35/1 PLACE (Paul)
- Masters, Paul Casey @ 50/1 - PLACE (Steve)
- Hero Indian Open, Carlos Pigem @ 80/1 - PLACE (Paul)
- Tshwane Open, Dean Burmester @ 16/1 - WIN (Paul)
- Abu Dhabi Championship, Martin Kaymer @ 30/1 PLACE (Steve)
- Alfred Dunhill Championship, Thomas Detry @ 66/1 - PLACE (Dan)
- Alfred Dunhill Championship, Richard Sterne @ 22/1 - PLACE (Paul)
* Total P/L for 2016 Season: +£267.58
* Total P/L for 2015 Season: +£958.37
* Total P/L for 2014 Season: +£251.75
£5 E/W Per Bet