The European Tour heads out of the United Kingdom for the first time since June, and the picturesque Albatross Resort near Prague for the sixth-staging of the D+D Real Czech Masters. Here is all you need to know, including the Aussies teeing it up and TV times.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Belgian Thomas Pieters won on the European Tour for the first time in three years when he carded a three under 69 to claim the trophy by a single stroke from Spaniard Adri Arnaus. Pieters is not listed in the field this week, and hasn’t played since the Olympics where he was ill during the course of the tournament.
COURSE: Built for a reported €30 million on the outskirts of Prague by transport entrepreneur and obsessed golfer, Jiri Simane, the Albatross Golf Resort is a lengthy, and occasionally hilly layout.
Designed by Keith Preston and opened for play in 2009, the layout has changed a significantly since it first hosted the Czech Masters in 2014. Several new water hazards have been added, with two of them coming either side of the green on the par-5 1st hole.
From the tips, the course plays a lengthy 7,467 yards (6,828 metres) with two par-5s over 600 yards, while the shortest par-3, at 168 yards, has a green protected by water front, left and back.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Three major champions have been added to the field for this year’s event, and all will have dibs on the title this week.
Former Masters Champion and a holder of seven European Tour titles, Englishman Danny Willett, will be playing his third Czech Masters. Both of his appearances resulted in top-20 finishes (2014 and 2018), but his last start – at The Open last month – suggests he might be searching for a better result in Prague. He opened with rounds of 67-69 to reach the first page of the leaderboard before drifting out to T33.
The 2016 Open Champion, Henrik Stenson, is also seeking a reversal of form. Now ranked No.204 in the world, the Swede has missed 11 cuts in 16 starts in 2021 but in this field he could find a turning point with his confidence. A strong finish, even a win, could propel him into the top-125 in the Race To Dubai standings … a result he wouldn’t have thought possible a month ago.
Padraig Harrington is making his third start in the event, with a runner-up finish in 2018 being a highlight. The European Ryder Cup Captain reached 20 under on that occasion and has shown this year that he can still mix it in string fields on the regular tour, with his fourth place at the PGA Championship and T11 at the Scottish Open. Harrington might inch his way to the top of the leaderboard on sheer determination to succeed as the oldest man in the field.
Of the Australians playing in Prague, Bryden Macpherson will be hoping the momentum gained from three sub-par rounds to close out the Cazoo Classic last week continues. After a slow start, he climbed back to finish T21 and record his best European Tour finish this season.
72-HOLE RECORD: Andrea Pavan 22 under, 266 (2018).
AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Bryden Macpherson, Maverick Antcliff, Jake McLeod, Dimi Papadatos, Deyen Lawson.
Round 1: Thursday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 9pm – 2am)
Round 2: Friday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 11pm – 2am)
Round 3: Saturday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 10.30pm – 2.30am)
Round 4: Sunday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 9pm – 1.30am)
*AEST, check local guides