The DP World Tour makes its first visit of the 2022 season to the United Kingdom this week for the Betfred British Masters hosted by Danny Willett at The Belfry. Here are your five things to know…
Willett resumes hosting duties again
Danny Willett assumes hosting responsibility for the second year running as the tournament, now in its 44th edition, returns for the second year running to the Brabazon Course at The Belfry – a venue steeped in European golf history.
The 2016 Masters Champion, who became the first Briton in 20 years to slip on the Green Jacket, joined an elite group of British golf’s most recognisable players to take on the role of tournament host last year.
Since the event was restored to the DP World Tour schedule in 2015, Ian Poulter at Woburn (2015), Luke Donald at The Grove (2016), Lee Westwood at Close House (2017 and 2020), Justin Rose at Walton Heath (2018) and Tommy Fleetwood at Hillside (2019) have all had the privilege.
“I’m honoured to have the opportunity to host the Betfred British Masters for a second time,” said Willett, who finished tied 11th last year before he went on to win the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland later in 2021.
The eight-time DP World Tour winner arrives in England on the back of a stretch of events on the PGA TOUR, while his best performance so far this year came at Augusta National as he finished tied 12th.
Support of Prostate Cancer UK
Host Willett, 34, has once again selected Prostate Cancer UK as the official charity of the 2022 Betfred British Masters and will hope to play his part in bettering the £25,000 raised at the event last year.
Title partner Betfred has again pledged £1,000 for every birdie and £2,000 for every eagle made by Willett, a long-time supporter of Prostate Cancer UK, at this week's tournament and will also donate £50,000 for the first hole-in-one by a professional on the 14th hole – the same hole that Sir Nick Faldo famously made an ace at the 1993 Ryder Cup on the Brabazon Course.
Fundraising for the United Kingdom-based charity will also be held in the fan village during the week with Long Putt and Chipping challenges.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, affecting one in eight. Men over 50, black men and men with a family history of the disease are at increased risk. Visit prostatecanceruk.org to find out more and check your risk in 30 seconds.
Bland defends in landmark 500th Tour appearance
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. The well-known proverb is apt for Richard Bland, who won his first DP World Tour title at the 478th attempt after a dramatic climax to last year’s tournament.
He also became the oldest first-time winner on the Tour at the age of 48 years and 101 days as he beat Italy’s Guido Migliozzi, 24 years Bland’s junior, in a play-off.
Bland had begun the final round three shots off the lead but carded an excellent final round of 66, including a 30-foot birdie putt across the 18th green, to set the clubhouse target at 13 under par. That was later matched by a fast-finishing Migliozzi, who appeared set to deny Bland his moment in the spotlight when he birdied the 15th and 16th, before a par on the first extra hole – the 18th – by the Englishman proved decisive after Migliozzi three-putted for bogey.
Since that momentous victory, Bland has continued his renaissance with a series of notable performances, including a play-off defeat to Norway’s Viktor Hovland at the Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic in January, reaching the last 16 of the WGC Dell Technologies Match Play in March on debut and moving into the top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time.
Bland’s title defence this week also carries further significance as it will be his 500th appearance on the DP World Tour since his debut season in 2002.
U.S. Open Qualification
Ten spots in this year’s U.S. Open will be available via the 2022 European Qualifying Series comprising four DP World Tour events, beginning at the Betfred British Masters hosted by Danny Willett.
The top ten aggregate DP World Tour Rankings points earners (not otherwise exempt) from this week’s event, the Soudal Open (May 12-15), Dutch Open (May 26-29) and the Porsche European Open (June 2-5) will secure their spots in the field at The Country Club, Brookline.
It is the third consecutive year the European Qualifying Series has taken place in this format having previously been a 36-hole European Final Qualifying event.
Last year, Marcus Armitage, Bland, Dave Coupland, Thomas Detry, Adrian Meronk, Migliozzi, Edoardo Molinari, Jordan Smith and Matthew Southgate earned their places in the field at Torrey Pines via the European Qualifying Series.
Migliozzi went on to finish in a share of fourth position in just his second Major Championship appearance, four shots behind winner Jon Rahm.
Fans return to The Belfry
The Belfry – hosting the British Masters for a sixth time – is set to welcome golf fans in their vast numbers across the week in what is the first of nine events to be held in the UK on the 2022 DP World Tour schedule.
The tournament’s past three editions have all been held behind closed doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the 19th DP World Tour event to be staged at the Sutton Coldfield venue will carry even greater significance with the return of crowds.
“I learned a lot from last year’s hosting duties and I’m looking forward to playing my part in putting on a successful tournament for the home fans,” said tournament host Willett.
The award-winning Brabazon Course welcomed the Tour back for the first time in 12 years with the staging of the ISPS HANDA UK Championship, the conclusion of the Tour’s ‘UK Swing’ in August 2020, won by Denmark’s Rasmus Højgaard.
The Belfry has hosted the Ryder Cup on four occasions, including in 1985 when a combined European team led by Tony Jacklin beat the United States for the first time, as well as 1989, 1993 and most recently in 2002.