At the end of July 2020, the DP World Tour staged the Hero Open, won by Sam Horsfield. At the time, it was billed as the first edition of the English Open since 2002, but that event moved to Scotland last year and it was billed as the second edition of the Hero Open - won by Grant Forrest at Fairmont St Andrews - so that inaugural edition of the Hero Open now has nothing to do with the old English Open. Bear with me, we're nearly there.
This week's DP World Tour event, the Cazoo Classic, was last year being billed as the first edition of the English Open since 2002, but (at the time of writing) on the DP World Tour website, under History, the only winner listed is last year's victor - Callum Hill.
Whether this is reincarnation of the old English Open or the second edition of a new event I don't know, but either way, the tournament is moving from last year's venue, the London Golf Club in Kent, to the Hillside Golf Club in Southport.
Hillside Golf Club, Southport, England.
Par 72, 6,953 yards
Stroke Average in 2019 - 71.42
Hillside is a typical British links track framed by dunes with elevated tees. Anyone that's played it has nothing but praise for it and there's a letter in the clubhouse from Greg Norman, the Open Champion at Turnberry and Royal St George's, describing the second nine holes as the best anywhere in Britain.
The hole-by-hole guide on the course website is great and the video below provides a nice bit of insight too but we do have some fairly recent form to look back on. Hillside was the venue for the British Masters as recently as 2019.
Live on Sky Sports all four days, starting at 15:30 on Thursday
What Will it Take to Win the Cazoo Classic?
To give us a bit of an idea of what's required at Hillside, here's the top-five at the British Masters in 2019 with all the traditional stats.
Marcus Kinhult -16 DD: 52, DA: 7, GIR: 14, Scr: 25, PA: 9
Robert MacIntyre -15 DD: 56, DA: 14, GIR: 25, Scr: 24, PA: 1
Eddie Pepperell -15 DD: 74, DA: 4, GIR: 14, Scr: 48, PA: 16
Matt Wallace -15 DD: 29, DA: 41, GIR: 2, Scr: 9, PA: 20
Richie Ramsay -12 DD: 50, DA: 48, GIR: 14, Scr: 48, PA: 9
DD - Driving Distance
DA - Driving Accuracy
GIR - Greens In Regulation
Scr - Scrambling
PA - Putting Average
Hillside is quite tight and finding the fairways off the tee is far more important than hitting it long.
Not finding enough fairways over the weekend cost Matt Wallace dear (matched at a low of 1.282/7) and he was the only player to finish inside the top-five to rank any better than 50th for Driving Distance.
It's very unusual to arrive at a venue where finding fairways is the key to success nowadays but this looks like a great chance for the accurate guys to shine.
Is There an Angle In?
As always with a links tournament, previous links form is a huge plus, so the usual rules apply; look at the Scottish Open over the last 11 years, the 2009, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019 editions of the Irish Open, the Open Championship, and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship for clues. Links golf is quite unique and those events have all been staged on links courses.
Anyone that's played in the Scottish Open and/or the Open Championship over the last two weeks should be advantaged given they've honed their links games and I'd also look closely at form at any of the desert tracks but in-particular - Doha.
Doha hosted the Qatar Masters between 1998 and 2019 and it returned there this year after a two-year stint at Education City. Checking out the leaderboards there may well prove a worthwhile exercise.
Kinhult who was a surprise 370.0369/1 winner here in 2019, has only four top-four finishes on the DP World Tour and two of them were at Doha (in 2018 and 2022). And one of the three men to be beaten by just a stroke by Kinhult here, the links specialist, Eddie Pepperell, won the Qatar Masters at Doha in 2018.
Open winners, Henrik Stenson and Paul Lawrie have won the Qatar Masters at Doha and so too have three players that really should have won an Open. Adam Scot, Sergio Garcia, and Thomas Bjorn have all traded at odds-on in an Open Championship before ultimately failing to get over the line so form there is as good as form at any links venue.
Up with the pace is so often the place to be on a links track and Kinhult was never outside the top-six places or more than two off the lead but we still witnessed plenty of excitement in-play.
Wallace was matched at just 1.75/7 on Saturday after opening up the third round with three straight birdies to get to 15-under-par but after much drama, that's the score he finished on, and he was beaten by just a stroke.
Kinhult was matched at 1.635/8 when he hit the front on the back-nine on Sunday but back-to-back bogeys at 15 and 16 looked to have cost him any chance of the title and he drifted back out to in excess of 20.019/1 before Wallace missed easy chances at 16 and 17 and Kinhult birdied the last two holes to win by a stroke.
It's an intricate little track that's clearly capable of creating drama and it would be no surprise to see someone trade at long odds-on again before tripping up.
Time and time again we see two or more players trade at odds-on without winning on the DP World Tour and that could easily happen again here.
Looking at the hole averages from 2019, the par five 17th is a birdie opportunity but it's a tough finish and five of the last six holes averaged over-par. The 18th was the toughest, the 16th the second hardest and the par four 14th was the third most difficult hole encountered.
After weekend rounds of 69-68 at St Andrews to finish 34th in the Open Championship, Scotland's Robert Macintyre is a considerably shorter price than he was when he burst onto the scene at Hillside in 2019. He was a 370.0369/1 shot three years ago but he heads the market here at 13.012/1, and he makes very little appeal given he's missed three of his last five cuts.
The 25-year-old still has just the one win to his name - the 2020 Aphrodite Hills Cyprus Showdown - and his ninth placed finish at the Ras al Khaimah Classic back in February is his only top-ten finish in 2022.
The South African pair, Triston Lawrence and Oliver Bekker, are vying for second favouritism and of the two I much prefer the latter.
Bekker 21.020/1 was an unlucky loser at the Catalunya Championship where he did very little wrong, losing a protracted playoff to Adri Arnaus back in May and he was sixth at the Soudal Open a week later but like MacIntyre, he too has missed three of his last five cuts.
Lawrence, 17.016/1, who won the weather-shortened DP World Tour opener back in November - the Joburg Open - has been in strong and consistent form of late with a third placed finish in the Irish open the highlight. As 25, he looks to have a bright future but he's fractionally shorter than I'd have liked here.
I'm going with just two here and both have strong claims on their form at Doha.
A year before winning his second DP World Tour event at education City, Jorge Campillo has finished second in the Qatar Masters at Doha in 2019, having finished 20th and 13th in the two previous editions there.
The Spaniard missed the cut in the Scottish Open last time out but he'd finished 15th in the BMW International Open and seventh in the Irish Open prior to that and 46.045/1 looks fair.
My second selection is Scotland's Ewen Ferguson who won the Qatar Masters at Doha back in March, three weeks after blowing a lead in Kenya.
He's ticked over nicely since that first success, and he may just be ready to go in a again at a venue almost certain to suit.
Although there's very little to suggest the two venues correlate, it's possibly noteworthy that the 2019 winner here, Kinhult, also contended in Kenya in early March.
Jorge Campillo @ 46.045/1
Ewen Ferguson @ 90.089/1
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