The European Tour resumes this week with the D+D REAL Czech Masters. Belgium’s Thomas Pieters defends while Fitzpatrick, Sullivan and Westwood look to secure Ryder Cup spots.
A strong field has assembled at the Albatross Golf Resort in Vysoky Ujezd for this third instalment of the Czech Masters. Lee Westwood will tee it up, with Robert Karlsson, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Andy Sullivan and defending champion Thomas Pieters also on the start sheet.
Jamie Donaldson of Wales was the first winner of this event back in 2014 when his victory secured a place in Paul McGinley’s Ryder Cup team for Gleneagles. Donaldson will play again this year.
This time the event will be the second last tournament counting to Ryder Cup qualification and players will be aiming to make an impression. Matthew Fitzpatrick will be looking to secure his place in the side, as will Andy Sullivan. Lee Westwood will be hoping to stake his claim to a spot in a 10th Ryder Cup team.
Lee Westwood swing analysis:
In last year’s Czech Masters, Belgium’s Thomas Pieters held off the challenge of Pelle Edberg and Matthew Fitzpatrick to win his first European Tour title. Pieters will be back to defend his title this week after a strong showing in last week’s men’s Olympic golf competition.
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 acting as protection, together with a selection of well-placed bunkers and 1,200 newly planted trees.
As well as being a simply incredible Scrabble score (if place names were allowed,) Vysoky Ujezd where the Albatross Golf Resort is situated, is a beautiful and historic village in the Beroun district, on the outskirts of the Czech Republic capital of Prague. The first written mention of the village dates to 1310.
The weather forecast looks settled for the first three days of the tournament, warm and dry. But rain could be a factor on Sunday.
Venue: Albatross Golf Resort, Vysoky Ujezd, Prague, Czech Republic
Date: Aug 18-21
Course stats: par 72, 7,467 yards
Purse: €1,000,000 Winner: €166,660
Defending Champion: Thomas Pieters (-20)
Thursday 18 – Sky Sports 4 from 10am
Friday 19 – Sky Sports 4 from 10am
Saturday 20 – Sky Sports 4 from 12pm
Sunday 21 – Sky Sports 4 from 11.30am
Keep your eye on these English Ryder Cup hopefuls:
Matthew Fitzpatrick – With one eye on his Ryder Cup place, Fitzpatrick will be keen to put in a solid performance this week. He came close last year so clearly enjoys the course. He put in a good showing at the Paul Lawrie Match Play two weeks ago.
Andy Sullivan – Another man with Hazeltine on his mind, Sullivan has enjoyed a good summer. In the French, Scottish and then Open championships he was T5, T6 and T12.
Lee Westwood – A win here could be massive for Westwood. Already a favourite to receive a captain’s pick for Hazeltine, victory in this event could seal the deal. He’s had a good season that included a tie for second at The Masters and he’s currently ninth on the Race to Dubai standings.
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.