The Quinn Insurance British Masters, dubbed the Battle of The Brabazon, is one of the highlights on The European Tour and only a few weeks away.
This year’s tournament is set to take place at The Belfry for the third consecutive year, from 25th-28th September, with a celebrity Pro-Am day on Wednesday 24th September. Many of the golfing titans have already confirmed that they will play at the tournament, including last year’s victor Lee Westwood, KLM Dutch Open winner Darren Clarke, Colin Montgomerie and newly established professional, Chris Wood. They will all be vying for the £1.8 million prize fund and coveted title.
With new developments to the Brabazon course for 2008, notably the 16th hole, reigning champion Lee Westwood has kindly provided an expert hole-by-hole commentary for the legendary Brabazon course.
A gentle opening hole. Bunkers on the right narrow up the driving area so I usually hit to the widest part of the fairway at 270 yards, leaving an eight or nine iron to the green. Good birdie chance.
Another well placed bunker on the left of this fairway makes the tee shot tricky. I hug the right side of this fairway to open up the green. Once hit, there shouldn’t be too many difficulties in securing your good birdie opportunity.
Hugging the left side of the fairway leaves a shorter shot into this par five. With no wind it can be reached with a long iron. It’s important to hit the right section of this green as there’s a tricky spine running down the middle, which means putting or chipping can prove very tricky.
I aim over the bunker on the right. Missing this fairway is not an option – with water short it’s important to have a good line in order to hit this demanding green. The green sits from front left to back right, suiting my fade.
I hit a soft draw off the right hand trap. This green is very shallow so club selection has to be perfect. If the greens are firm, iron shots have to be struck crisply in order to make them hold. This should be a good birdie chance.
The changes made to this hole have made it one of the most demanding. With water down the left, I am just inside the right hand bunker with the intention of finishing just short of it. The hole now dog legs left over the water. With a mid iron in hand, I’ll take four here every day.
First of the par threes and a great looking hole, surrounded by traps. I really have to trust my yardage because this table top green often looks shorter than it is. If you miss this green it’s a real tough up and down.
This is a great hole. A very demanding drive, with water on the left and heavy rough down the right. Like the fourth, this fairway must be hit because with water short, an iron not hit properly will result in a bogey or even a double. Like the sixth, I’ll take four here and move on.
The last of this tough quartet of holes. I keep the tee shot as tight as possible to the left hand bunker in order to shorten the approach shot and also attempt to take the water as much out of play as possible. This green is on three tiers so club selection is very important. The caddie is really under pressure through this stretch.
After a difficult few holes comes this potential banana skin. The signature hole at The Belfry is very reachable, as shown in previous Ryder Cups. Stroke play is a very different form of the game but I am essentially an aggressive player so given the chance I will go for this green. If I do lay up, the pitch requires accuracy and spin control, something I have worked hard on recently. A great birdie chance.
This hole has changed dramatically since I won last year. The bunkers have been moved up the fairway and trees planted on the right, making it a tighter tee shot. The green has been moved to the right and has been altered. It now has three levels. The bottom level at the front, middle level back right and top level back left. With a severe tier from front to back left, this is not going to be the easy birdie chance it once was.
Second of the par threes and also the longest. The back right pin is by far the most demanding. The stream up the right of this green definitely plays on your mind. The hole usually plays down breeze so only requires a five or six iron, but I am always happy with a three.
Only a short par four so driver can take you too close to the green, especially with the front flag. So a three wood over the middle of the right hand fairway bunker is my favoured play. This leaves a good pitching distance and hopefully sets up a birdie chance.
Into the wind this can actually play the longest of the par threes. The pin positions are generally placed back left, so a strong draw is my favoured shot. As with the previous two par threes I’m happy to make par and move on.
This fairway disappears over the brow of the hill so picking my target is essential. I hit a strong draw again off this tee, not only for distance but also to hold the fairway as it moves slightly right to left in the driving area. This should be reachable in two, but with a very narrow entrance the green is not always easy to hit.
With the tee being moved to the left and a new bunker on the right, a draw is very much the shot down here. Once on the fairway the green is demanding, so the pitch must be very accurate. The top pin position is the toughest but the bottom left hand flag is a definite birdie chance.
After three drawn tee shots in a row, I aim down the right and hit a fade to take out the dog leg on this par five. Once on the fairway, a ripped three wood will get me onto the putting surface. I always feel I need a four here or I’m losing ground.
Probably one of the most famous holes in golf, this 18th needs nerves of steel. I pick my spot on the fairway depending on the wind and commit 100%. This green is 62 yards long so the shot to the green can vary massively. The favoured last day flag is middle left and this particular tier is only 12 yards deep and proves difficult to hit. Make four here to win and you deserve the title Quinn Insurance British Masters Champion.