The British Masters takes centre-stage this week as the players set the sat-navs on their fully-sponsored 4x4s for Woburn.
Anyone with a European Tour card will have next year’s Ryder Cup on their mind as the points race continues for Hazeltine National Golf Club next September – but there’s also the end-of-season Final Series to play for in three tournaments time.
Here’s the 6 best-backed players in the book at noon on Wednesday where Paddy’s paying the first six home ahead of tee-off on Thursday morning.
1. Shane Lowry
The ‘I’ve kept my US Tour card’ grin on Lowry’s face’ shows just how good a season the Irishman has had, with the highlight so far being crowned Bridgestone Invitational champion in August.
A little slow out of the traps in Scotland on just his his third appearance – second in Europe – since that win, the Offaly man could find himself at home on the lesser-spotted Woburn course given his enviable record in the PGA at Wentworth – a course with similar characterisitcs.
Should have shaken off the rust – if not a few pounds – in Scotland last week as he looks to get his ‘A’ game back for the Race to Dubai next month and a year-long push to break into the Ryder Cup side for the first time.
2. Ian Poulter
The tournament host and club member, Poulter is ‘putting something back into the game’ after a decade polishing his Ferrari’s in Florida.
Is one of the few with course form here after finishing second in 2002 but his form either side of the pond this season hasn’t been great despite finishing T6 at Augusta and T5 at the Crown Plaza Invitational.
This could be a good time to get his game face on ahead of the Race to Dubai and his regular annual peak in form for the Final Series.
3. Paul Dunne
The Irish rookie picked up just shy of £50k in his first pro event last weekend at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and there’s been some cheeky cash for the Greystones native.
Led the Open Championship going into the final day in July before dropping away but proved it wasn’t beginner’s luck by topping the leaderboard at St Andrews again last weekend before 19th place put some cash in the bank this time.
Dunne is one of the few players with some serious recent course form at Woburn having finished leading qualifier for the Open Championship qualifier at the Marquess track for the past two seasons.
Could be a value play in just his second professional tournament playing for the over-sized cheque and has caught Steve Palmer’s eye in the Racing Post.
4. Chris Wood
The lanky Englishman underlined his current good form with a closing pair of 65s at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship last weekend to finish T5 behind Thorbjorn Olesen in Scotland.
A winner of the Lyoness Open in June he’s also posted another three Top 10s this term as he looks to break through the €1m mark – and clock up some Ryder Cup points – in his ninth season on Tour.
5. Danny Willett
Followed up his T6 at St Andrews with a win at the Omega European Masters and four rounds in the 60s saw him T3 at the Italian Open two starts back.
Currently sits second in the Race to Dubai ranking behind Rory McIlroy and can put the mop top under more pressure will a big finish here. Tees it up with Lowry and Thomas Pieters at 12.40 on day one.
6. Luke Donald
The former World No 1 has now slipped outside the World’s Top 50 and keeps this engagement with one eye on qualifying for next year’s Ryder Cup.
Missed the cut last weekend in Scotland on his first run out in Europe since a respectable T12 behind Zach Johnson at the Open Championship at St Andrews and T7 at the Scottish Open the week before.
Sure to have plenty of support from the galleries on his debut in the competition.