Local hero Tommy Fleetwood takes centre stage this week as the European Tour returns to Hillside Golf Club for the first time in 37 years. Here are five things to know ahead of the Betfred British Masters.
Tommy comes home
Ryder Cup star Tommy Fleetwood takes the reins in his hometown this week, becoming the fifth player to host the British Masters. Fleetwood follows in the footsteps of compatriots Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose and Lee Westwood in acting as tournament host.
The quintet have played an important part in the rebirth of the tournament, which had previously been an integral part of the European Tour’s calendar from 1972 through to 2008. Last year, Justin Rose recorded the best finish by a British Masters host after finishing tied ninth at Walton Heath Golf Club.
Pepperell’s the Master
Eddie Pepperell won his maiden European Tour title at last year’s Commercial Bank Qatar Masters, and then went on to secure his second victory in the 2018 edition of this event.
Pepperell went wire-to-wire in the south of England, taking a two-stroke lead into the final round before finishing two strokes ahead of Sweden’s Alexander Björk.
The 28-year-old reached a career-high 33rd in the Official World Golf Ranking after his victory and has maintained his position in the top 50 since.
More than Three Lions
Pepperell became the 12th English winner of this event last year, following in the footsteps of Ryder Cup players and Major Champions. Pepperell joined Peter Baker, Nick Faldo, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Horton, Guy Hunt, Tony Jacklin, Mark James, Barry Lane, Greg Owen, Justin Rose and Lee Westwood as home champions.
Fitzpatrick became the youngest winner of the British Masters in 2015 at Woburn, aged 21 years and 40 days.
Back on Merseyside
The European Tour returns to Hillside Golf Club for the first time since 1982, when Tony Jacklin won the Sun Alliance PGA Championship, the precursor to the BMW PGA Championship. Jacklin beat fellow Ryder Cup Captain Bernhard Langer in a play-off.
Hillside also hosted the European Tour in its inaugural season in 1972, when Tommy Horton won the Piccadilly Medal, and the following year when former Tour Chairman Neil Coles won the PGA Match Play title.
It has also been utilised by the R&A as a Final Qualifying venue for the Open Championship from 2014 and 2017 and will also host one of the Monday Qualifiers for this year’s Senior Open Presented by Rolex, which takes place at Royal Lytham & St Annes in July.
Holding out for a Hero
The Hero Challenge returns for the first time in 2019, with this edition taking place at Princes Dock in Liverpool.
Tournament host Tommy Fleetwood will take on Hero Indian Open winner Stephen Gallacher, compatriot Matt Wallace, former World Number One Martin Kaymer and five-time European Tour winner Alex Levy, who won the inaugural Hero Challenge at The Grove in 2016. The five European Tour players will be joined by Ladies European Tour and LPGA star Charley Hull on the quayside, taking part in her first Hero Challenge.
The innovative format, which runs from 18:30 to 19:30, kicks-off an exciting evening of sport in the city, as Liverpool take on Barcelona in their UEFA Champions League semi-final after the conclusion of the Hero Challenge.