British Masters host Lee Westwood failed miserably to contend in his own tournament the week before last, going off a well-backed favourite at Close House before scraping through the halfway cut, then carding a lacklustre final-round 79 to finish last of the weekend qualifiers.
The Worksop Wonder, as he has been known since winning his first European Tour event way back in 1996, said he felt uncomfortable with the strict Covid-19 protocols on the circuit post-lockdown and could not relax at the venue.
The sociable Westwood also said he missed the standard contact with other players that happened in pre-coronavirus days.
The 47-year-old skipped the Hero Open last week, but returns this week for the English Championship at Hanbury Manor, where he won the English Open in 1998.
It remains to be seen whether Westwood can get in a better frame of mind for this event. Andrew Johnston withdrew after just nine holes of the British Masters because he found the post-lockdown environment so unnerving.
Horsfield Seeking Back-to-Back Victories in Homeland
A star may have been born in the Hero Open on Sunday – Sam Horsfield completed a week of birdies with his maiden European Tour title and the Manchester-born 23-year-old looks capable of developing into a serious player.
Horsfield made two eagles and 25 birdies at the Forest of Arden, recovering from a bad back-nine in round three to secure his breakthrough success, and there seems to be no reason why the Florida-based pro will not contend again this week.
Florida-like weather is forecast for Hertfordshire over the next four days, with sunshine and hardly any wind, so Horsfield, a naturally attacking player who possesses bundles of power, can make merry at Hanbury Manor.
Hearty celebrations are not really possible in the Covid-19 era, especially with Tour officials keen on keeping the players in their ‘bubble’, so Horsfield will probably arrive on the tee fresh enough to produce his best again. The
18/1 about an English Championship triumph is eyecatching.
Detry has Opportunity to Bounce Back from Missed Tiddler
Thomas Detry has become a frustrating player for punters to follow, the 27-year-old Belgian continuing to threaten a maiden European Tour title before making a silly mistake or two when in contention, and history repeated itself in the Hero Open.
Detry had got himself on the brink of victory at the Forest of Arden on Sunday, but a bogey at the final hole, including a missed par putt from short range, meant he left the door wide open for Sam Horsfield, who came crashing through to win by a shot.
Detry has a tough task on his hands to recover mentally from that setback in time to contend again at Hanbury Manor, but he can take solace from how well he played to get on to what turned out to be the winning score.
The powerhouse, who won the World Cup alongside Thomas Pieters in 2018, is
11/1 for English Championship glory.
*All odds correct at time of writing