First staged in 2014, the Czech Masters is one of the newer events on the DP World Tour and this is only the eighth renewal after the tournament was one of those lost to the pandemic in 2020.
The Albatross Golf Resort in Prague has been the tournament's host course since its inception.
Albatross Golf Resort, Prague, Czech Republic.
Par 72, 7,468 yards
Stroke index in 2021- 72.13
Designed by Keith Preston and opened in 2010, the Albatross Course has been the host course since the event began. It's a long track with average width bentgrass and fescue fairways and bentgrass greens. The greens have previously run at around 12 on the Stimpmeter.
There were a couple of changes to the course before the 2016 renewal. Two new green side lakes were added and 27 new trees were planted.
In addition to hosting this event since day one, the Albatross was also the venue for the Prague Masters on the Ladies European Tour in 2011 and 2012.
Live on Sky Sports all four days, starting at midday on Thursday.
Tournament Winners with Pre-event Exchange Prices
2021 - Johannes Veerman -15 34.033/1
2020 - Event Cancelled
2019 - Thomas Pieters -19 22.021/1
2018 - Andrea Pavan -20 60.059/1
2017 - Haydn Porteous -13 55.054/1
2016 - Paul Peterson -15 1000.0
2015 - Thomas Pieters -20 80.079/1
2014 - Jamie Donaldson -14 12.011/1
What Will it Take to Win the D+D Real Czech Masters?
The Albatross is a lengthy course and three of the six course winners to date have been long hitters but two of the last five have ranked only 40th and 41st. The front three last year ranked 17th, 13th and 19th.
Length appears more important than accuracy though. Thomas Pieters ranked fourth for Driving Distance when he won the event for a second time three years ago, and he ranked first in 2015 when taking the title for the first time. Pelle Edberg, who finished second to Pieters seven years ago, ranked second for DD and the big-hitting South African, Dean Burmester, ranked first for DD 12 months ago when finishing sixth.
The 2016 winner, Paul Peterson, ranked third for Driving Accuracy and he ranked third for DA when finishing tied fourth last year but none of the other winners have ranked any better than 25th.
With a lot of rain in the forecast, the big hitters may be advantaged, if the fairways aren't too dry before the off.
As a rule, wet conditions result in a reduction of run, disadvantaging the shorter hitters. Not only do they not hit as far down the fairways, but the big hitters tend not to run into the rough as often when the fairways run slower.
Scrambling is an important stat most weeks but that certainly hasn't been the case here. Pieters, ranked 10th for Scrambling in 2015 and so too did last year's winner, Johannes Veerman, but the five winners in-between ranked 65th, 25th, 51st, 36th and 30th and Sean Crocker finished tied second last year ranking 66th for Scrambling.
Veerman only ranked 22nd for Greens In Regulation last year but Crocker and Tapio Pulkkanen (tied second) ranked first and seventh and it was a very similar story at the inaugural edition.
Like Veerman, Pieters ranked 22nd for GIR in 2015 but the two players in second and third, Edberg and Matthew Fitzpatrick, ranked first and second. The four subsequent winners ranked second, first, second and sixth for GIR and the first two home three years ago, Pieters and Adri Arnous, ranked third and first so that's the stat to concentrate on but putting well and making lots of birdies has been vital too...
The seven winners have ranked, fourth, first, second, second, first, 13th and ninth for Putting Average and it's been all about making lots of birdies.
The two tied for second ranked first and second for birdies made last year (Veerman ranked 11th) and prior to that, Denmark's J.B Hansen was the only man in the field to make more birdies than the 2016 winner, Peterson, and the other five winners have made more birdies than anyone else.
Is There an Angle In?
At the very first edition of this event, Sky Sports' Wayne 'Radar' Riley likened the course to the London Club, which was the venue for last year's Cazoo Classic, won by Calum Hill, and he may have been onto something given an out-of-form Paul Peterson, the surprise 2016 winner, was in-contention there until a very poor third round, that the runner-up here, Sean Crocker, sat tied second after round one (before missing the cut!) and that the inaugural winner here, Jamie Donaldson, finished third.
Winner's Position and Exchange Price Pre-Round Four
2021 - Johannes Veerman - tied second, trailing by two 6.05/1
2020 - Event Cancelled
2019 - Thomas Pieters led by a stroke 2.789/5
2018 - Andrea Pavan - tied for the lead 2.447/5
2017 - Haydn Porteous - solo second, trailing by two strokes 3.412/5
2016 - Paul Peterson - solo second, trailing by two strokes 12.5
2015 - Thomas Pieters - led by a stroke 2.0421/20
2014 - Jamie Donaldson - tied second, trailing by one 3.412/5
The first three home in the 2015 edition were all tied for third after round one and just one off the lead after opening rounds of 66 and they occupied the first three places at halfway. A year earlier, Jamie Donaldson had never been outside the first two places at any stage when he won so after the first two editions it looked like it might be a hard place to play catch-up.
Pieters sat 10th after round one three years ago, before sitting second at halfway and first after round three, and the 2018 winner, Andrea Pavan, was never worse than fifth or more than two strokes adrift between rounds but Peterson came from miles back to win in 2016...
The little-known American trailed by eight strokes at halfway before he broke the course record on Saturday and then he shot the joint-best round of the day on Sunday to win by a stroke.
The 2017 winner, Haydn Porteous, was neither bang up with the pace or miles off it. He trailed by four after round one, five after round two (although he'd moved up from 27th to fourth) and he trailed by two with a round to go.
Last year's victor, Veerman, sat tied for 37th and four back after round one but the next five on the final leaderboard all sat inside the top-three and ties after round one and all seven winners have sat first or second after 54 holes.
Peterson's victory is starting to seem like quite an anomaly and being up with the pace looks key.
The Albatross has a relatively tough finish after the par five 12th with the last six holes ranking fifth, seventh, 11th, third, first and eighth in terms of difficulty last year and if you're betting in-running, beware the par four 17th hole. In the first seven editions it's ranked either the hardest or second hardest on the course and a par there is a good score.
Having been matched at a low of 1.384/11, the third-round leader last year, Tapio Pulkkanen, bogeyed the hole before double-bogeying the last to lose by two.
With course form figures reading MC-1-2-66-9-1, Thomas Pieters is the worthy favourite.
The 30-year-old Belgian has ticked over fairly nicely since winning the Abu Dhabi Championship in January and he might be ready contend again after the disappointment of his playoff defeat to Haotong Li at the BMW International Open in Germany at the end of June.
He clearly loves the track and after his 37th in the Irish Open and 28th in the Open Championship, he looks primed to contend again.
This year's Dutch Open winner, Victor Perez, makes less appeal on his tournament debut.
He appears to have lost his way since getting the better of the luckless Ryan Fox in extra time at the end of May after performing poorly on Sunday to finish third in the European Open a week later, putting up ordinary form figures reading MC-53-MC-34.
LIV defector, Ian Poulter is back on the DP World Tour following victory the a legal challenge against his ban at the start of July but there's not much evidence to suggest he'll have a good week.
He topped the Putting Average stats in the LIV Golf Invitational Bedminster at the end of July in his latest start, when he finished 13th, but his overall form isn't anything write home about and he's easy to dismiss on his course debut.
No LIV golfers have been a factor at any of the tournaments they've played in away from the LIV Golf Series and Poulter makes no appeal to change that at around 20/1.
Sean Crocker missed the cut in Wales two weeks ago, just days after winning the Hero Open in fine style and I'm more than happy to dismiss that performance.
Cocker finished second on debut 12 months ago and he could very easily bounce back here after a week off.
When interviewed during the Cazoo Open, he mentioned he was looking forward to going on holiday to Ibiza so if that was last week the prep won't have been ideal but I'm happy to take a chance given he ranked fifth for Driving Distance, second for Greens In Regulation and sixth for putting Average when winning in Scotland and he may well be inspired by last week's winner, Ewen Ferguson, who was winning his second DP World Tour event in a matter of months.
The big hitting South African, Haydn Porteous, won here in 2017 and the massive hitting South African, Wilco Nienaber, is an interesting contender given the likely conditions. Odds in excess of 40.039/1 will be worth taking once the market matures.
With form figures reading 21-69-7-MC-23, the 22-year-old South African could just be ready to win his first DP World Tour event.
Nienaber shot 69-68-73-73 on debut in 2019 to finish 51st but he sat 14th at halfway so he's a had a sighter of the Albatross.
Sean Crocker @ 34.033/1
Wilco Nienaber @ circa 46.045/1
I've got a couple in mind here for Wednesday's Find me a 100 Winner column and I'll be back tomorrow with my BMW Championship preview.
*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter