Martin Kaymer, Thomas Pieters and Matt Fitzpatrick headline the field this week in Prague as the 2018 European Ryder Cup qualification gets underway
Czech Masters Preview: Ryder Cup Qualification Begins
The European Tour makes the stop in Prague this week for the D+D REAL Czech Masters at the Albatross Club for the fourth year in a row.
Two-time major winner Martin Kaymer headlines with 2015 champion Thomas Pieters and Matt Fitzpatrick.
It marks the first week of the 2018 European Ryder Cup qualification so is a fantastic chance for some of the hopefuls to get their names high up the points list early.
The year-long qualification process will see the top four from each of the European and World points lists automatically qualify alongside Thomas Bjorn‘s four wildcard picks.
Last year at the Czech Masters, American Paul Peterson edged out Thomas Pieters to win his maiden European Tour title.
Peterson birdied the 72nd hole to shoot a new course record of 64 and beat Pieters by a single stroke.
Designed by Keith Preston, the course at the Albatross Golf Resort opened for play in 2009.
It’s a testing tack with seven large lakes together with a selection of well-placed bunkers and 1,200 newly planted trees.
Venue: Albatross Golf Resort, Vysoky Ujezd, Prague, Czech Republic
Date: Aug 31-Sept 3
Course stats: par 72, 7,467 yards
Purse: €1,000,000 Winner: €166,660
Defending Champion: Paul Peterson (-15)
Thursday 31 Aug – Sky Sports Golf from 10am and 2pm
Friday 1 Sept – Sky Sports Golf from 10am and 2pm
Saturday 2 – Sky Sports Golf from 1pm
Sunday 3 – Sky Sports Golf from 12pm
Matt Fitzpatrick – The Englishman has an incredible record at the Albatross Club, finishing fifth last year and third in 2015.
Jordan Smith – Smith will fancy his chances of making the 2018 European Ryder Cup team and could get qualifying off to the perfect start with victory here. The Englishman won the recent Porsche European Open for his maiden European Tour title in his rookie season on Tour. He won the Challenge Tour Order Of Merit last year after winning the EuroPro Tour OOM the year before.
Thomas Pieters – The Belgian loves this place, having won here in 2015 and came agonisingly close a year later. He missed the cut last week at Made In Denmark but should still be one to look out for this week.
Key hole: 17th. A monster par-4 of 490 yards, this is one that demands a perfect drive and an accurate approach. Water runs down the right side from the tee and then across the fairway just at the limit of driving distance. Even if the players find good position from the tee, they’ll be left with a long iron (maybe even more) to a testing green.