Ahead of the Betfred British Masters hosted by Danny Willett at The Belfry, a founding event on the inaugural DP World Tour season fifty years ago, we look back at the past seven winners of the popular tournament since its return in 2015.
After a seven-year absence, following Gonzalo Fernández-Castaño’s play-off victory against Lee Westwood in 2008 at The Belfry, the event was restored to the Tour schedule, with a leading British golfer hosting the event.
2015: Fitzpatrick wins first Tour title at Woburn
England’s Matt Fitzpatrick shot a closing 68 at Woburn, home course of host Ian Poulter, to finish on 15 under par and claim his maiden professional title by two shots from Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti, Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen and Ireland’s Shane Lowry.
Fitzpatrick, the youngest player in the field at 21, began the final round tied for the lead with Thailand’s Kiradech Aphibarnrat but was two shots adrift of Zanotti and Kjeldsen at the turn before he pulled away from his rivals with four birdies between the 11th and 17th holes as he became the 12th first-time winner of the 2015 season.
The big turning point of the final round came at the par-five 15th, when Kjeldsen, playing in the group ahead of Fitzpatrick, ran his eagle putt off the green and narrowly missed the birdie attempt before the Englishman holed from 20 feet to take the outright lead.
Fitzpatrick, who turned professional in 2014, saw his advantage grow to two shots when Kjeldsen bogeyed the 16th after an errant tee shot while he consolidated his position when he converted a birdie putt from four feet at the par four 17th.
Having been at the top of the leaderboard since a 64 on the opening day, Fitzpatrick made a bogey at the last after his approach found a greenside bunker but that did not deny him from replacing former champion Justin Rose as the youngest winner of the tournament.
2016: Noren the Master at The Grove
Alex Noren continued his rich vein of form to win his third Tour title in his past eight events at the 2016 British Masters, when former World Number One Luke Donald chose The Grove in Hertforshire as the host venue.
The Swede, who had won the Scottish Open and European Masters earlier that season, had a final round of 69 to finish 18 under par, two shots ahead of Bernd Wiesberger, with Lee Westwood a stroke further back.
Noren started the rain-delayed final round three shots ahead of the field and he moved four clear early on, but his lead was wiped out when Wiesberger made a birdie at the 15th before he matched the Austrian, playing in the group ahead, to move ahead on the scoreboard once again.
With Wiesberger unable to birdie the par-five 18th, Noren knew all he needed was a par to win, but a superb chip from short of the green set up a tap-in birdie to seal victory which lifted him into the top 20 on the Official World Golf Ranking.
"It's an amazing feeling, honestly I never thought this would happen," said Noren, who was limited to playing in two events in 2014 due to serious wrist injuries.
2017: Dunne holds off McIlroy to win first Tour title
Paul Dunne produced a scintillating final-day nine-under 61 to hold off Rory McIlroy and claim his first Tour title in front of record crowds at Close House, near Newcastle, in 2017.
The nerveless Irishman, who was in a five-way tie for second going into the final round, carded seven birdies and an eagle as McIlroy finished three shots behind the winner after a 63 - his best round of the year.
Dunne was denied his maiden win earlier that year when Edoardo Molinari defeated him in a play-off at the Hassan II Golf Trophy in Morocco but made a fast start in North East England as he birdied three of his first five holes before he eagled the sixth.
The 24-year-old, who shot to prominence when he shared the 54-hole lead at the Open Championship in 2015 as an amateur, added four further birdies on the back nine, including a chip in from the 18th green to celebrate his victory in style.
"I went out and really tried to win the tournament, rather than have someone hand it to me. That was the focus,” Dunne said after being presented with the trophy by tournament host Lee Westwood.
2018: Pepperell defies miserable conditions to win at Walton Heath
Eddie Pepperell hit a closing 72 at a wet and windy Walton Heath to complete a wire-to-wire victory and claim his second Tour victory of the season, after he won the Qatar Masters in February.
The Englishman held a three-shot overnight lead but a three-putt at the par-three ninth, the same hole he had made a spectacular hole-in-one on in the first round, combined with playing partner Alexander Björk covering the front nine in 34 saw his advantage reduced to a single shot at the turn.
However, Pepperell, who had finished tied sixth at The Open that summer, holed his second shot at the 10th from 122 yards for an unlikely eagle to move three shots clear again.
There was still time for some late drama though as Pepperell saw his lead cut once again to a single shot after bogeys at the 15th and 16th, only for Sweden’s Björk, who was also targeting his second victory of the 2018 season, to bogey the 18th as Pepperell saved par from a greenside bunker to secure a deserved two-shot victory.
The victory at Walton Heath, chosen by tournament host Justin Rose, saw Pepperell rise into the world’s top 35 and helped secure his debut appearance at the Masters Tournament the following year.
2019: Kinhult finishes birdie-birdie to win maiden title at sunny Hillside
Marcus Kinhult became the second Swede in four years to win the tournament after a brilliant finish saw him clinch his first Tour title after a dramatic conclusion in sunny conditions at Hillside.
The 22-year-old, who had missed his last four cuts on the Tour and began the day tied for the lead, finished one shot clear of defending champion Eddie Pepperell, Matt Wallace and Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre.
Pepperell had set the clubhouse target of 15 under after a closing 66 before MacIntyre produced a stunning eagle-birdie finish to join him at the top of the leaderboard.
When Kinhult, who surrended a one-shot lead with bogeys at the 15th and 16th, birdied the 17th and playing partner Wallace missed from four feet, a four-man play-off appeared inevitable.
However, after Wallace missed another birdie chance at the last, Kinhult held his nerve to roll in a 12-foot birdie putt to secure victory.
“There’s a lot going through my mind, a lot of emotions and I am just so happy that I managed to handle those pretty well,” said Kinhult. “It’s really special. I have been waiting for this moment for 20 years.”
2020: Paratore wins at Close House for second Tour title
Renato Paratore won his second Tour title when the Betfred British Masters returned to Close House in July 2020 in the first event to be held following a near four-month hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The 23-year-old Italian carded a closing two-under 69 to win on 18 under, three shots clear of 19-year-old Dane Rasmus Højgaard.
Paratore, who won his first Tour title at the Nordea Masters in 2017, made his first bogey of the tournament at the par-three ninth in the final round before another arrived at the 11th but they were the only blemishes in an otherwise flawless performance.
Despite brief challenges from Højgaard and South Africa’s Justin Harding, who finished third, Paratore, who held a one-shot overnight lead, made birdies at the fourth, seventh, tenth and 17th holes to seal an assured victory in the first of six events that formed part of the 2020 UK Swing.
With the event, hosted for the second time by Westwood, held without crowds, Paratore received a socially distance guard of honour from some of his fellow professionals as he walked off the final green.
2021: Bland wins first Tour event at age of 48
Richard Bland defeated Guido Migliozzi in a play-off to win his first Tour title at the 478th attempt when the Betfred British Masters hosted by Danny Willett returned to The Belfry after a 13-year absence.
A brilliant closing 66 saw the Englishman set the clubhouse target on 13 under par, but his long-awaited moment in the spotlight appeared in doubt when Italy’s Migliozzi birdied the 15th and 16th to move into a share of the lead.
Migliozzi then found the green at the par-five 17th in two only to miss from five feet for a birdie after lipping out from long range for a birdie, before he got up and down from a greenside bunker at the 18th to save par and force extra holes.
Bland parred the first extra hole – the 18th – after Migliozzi, already a two-time winner on Tour at 24, three-putted from long range to become the oldest first-time winner on the circuit.
"It's what I've worked for for 20 years,” said an emotional Bland. “That's what we all work for, to win out here and try and prove yourself. I've had a few close calls and I assume someone up there was looking down on me quite favourably today. It was just my day.”