Molinari shoots for historic hat-trick at British Masters
With the return of Moliwood, a shot at history and... special edition chocolate, there are intriguing storylines everywhere you look this week as the European Tour heads to Walton Heath.
Justin Rose, who finished tied second at The 147th Open, is the latest Englishman to take on hosting duties for the British Masters and he has attracted a star-studded field to Surrey this year.
Champion Golfer Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood are reunited, while Thomas Bjorn and his Ryder Cup vice-captains Padraig Harrington and Lee Westwood will also be in action.
Elsewhere, there are also plenty of former Champion Golfers of the Year in the field on the PGA Tour, which begins its three-week stint in Asia with the CIMB Classic in Malaysia.
Here’s the lowdown on all the goings on in the golfing world this week.
Molinari chasing history
He’s won the BMW PGA Championship, he’s won The Open Championship and now Francesco Molinari has set his sights on achieving an historic hat-trick at Walton Heath.
Having triumphed at Carnoustie with a flawless final day performance, the Italian will become the first man to complete a trio of triumphs on UK soil if he prevails at the British Masters.
No one has ever won all three tournaments in the same year, but on the back of his sterling display at the Ryder Cup – where he won five points from five – it would be unwise to bet against him.
“Walton Heath is an unbelievable venue and I know it will provide a real test,” said Molinari, who will be paired with Tommy Fleetwood in the first two rounds following their Ryder Cup exploits.
“It would be great to add the British Masters to my wins at Wentworth and Carnoustie, but I’m not thinking about that too much. I would just like to continue my good form.”
Sweet treat goes down a storm
It looks like Justin Rose is taking his role as tournament host for the British Masters very seriously, with the former world number one pulling out all the stops to impress this week.
Rose is following in the footsteps of Ian Poulter, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood, who have all hosted in the last three years since the concept was introduced in 2015.
But the Olympic gold medallist has already put himself in the good books of his fellow players by presenting everyone in the field with a special edition chocolate bar.
He also took the opportunity to poke fun at the Moliwood bromance, questioning whether Tommy Fleetwood would share his bar with his wife or Francesco Molinari.
They say chocolate is the quickest way to a women’s heart – but if the reaction to Rose’s pre-tournament treat is anything to go by, it looks like it works on golfers as well.
Beef on target in Hero Challenge
As has now become tradition before the British Masters, six players went head-to-head in the Hero Challenge in the heart of the City of London on Tuesday night.
The event’s curtain-raiser saw the players split into two groups based on their world ranking before they collided in a target-golf challenge towards a pontoon in Canary Wharf.
Each player had six attempts to hit a floating island, with the top two from each group progressing to the semi-finals, where they then fought it out to reach the final and be crowned champion.
Justin Rose and Andrew ‘Beef’ Johnston progressed from the first group at the expense of Matt Wallace, while Thorbjorn Olesen and Paul Dunne pipped Thomas Bjorn in group two.
The final was a showdown between reigning British Masters champion Dunne and Johnston, with Beef holding his nerve to seal victory with his fifth attempt.
Honours keep coming for Koepka
An incredible season on the course for Brooks Koepka got even better this week as the American was named PGA Tour player of the year for 2018 ahead of a stellar list of names.
The 28-year-old defended his US Open title at Shinnecock Hills to become the first player to win the major back-to-back since 1989 before winning the PGA Championship at Bellerive.
He is only the fifth player to win the US Open and PGA Championship in the same year, while he was also in contention at Carnoustie before a poor third round dropped him down the field.
Champion Golfer Francesco Molinari was among those who missed out on the award, with Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Justin Rose and Justin Thomas also shortlisted.
“You look at the guys that have won this, to even have my name on it is special and I’m so thankful,” said Koepka. “It’s been a rollercoaster year and to cap it off like this is incredible.”
This was about the only surprise that came with @BKoepka winning the Nicklaus Award as the @PGATOUR Player of the Year!— Jack Nicklaus (@jacknicklaus) October 9, 2018
And I guess one videobomb deserves another! Take a look!#LiveUnderPar pic.twitter.com/pVpDf21AZw
PGA Tour goes ‘on tour’
While all eyes are on Justin Thomas as the PGA Tour heads to Malaysia this week, there is a strong contingent of past Champion Golfers ready to challenge him for the title.
The American won back-to-back CIMB Classic titles in 2016 and 2017 and appears to be a strong favourite once again at TPC Kuala Lumpur after enjoying a strong debut at the Ryder Cup.
But he will face strong competition from the likes of two-time Open Champion Ernie Els as well as former Champion Golfers Stewart Cink and Louis Oosthuizen.
“This is always going to be a special place for me, it’s always going to be the place where I got my first PGA Tour victory and that’s very, very special,” said Thomas.
Paul Casey is another player in Malaysia in excellent form, while Xander Schauffele – who was tied for the lead going into the final round of The 147th Open – will also be in action.
Practice Day tickets are still available for The 148th Open at Royal Portrush in 2019 and remember, when you buy your tickets for The Open with Mastercard, you will receive a £5 discount per transaction.
Not a bad place to open the Asia Swing. 😍 pic.twitter.com/D89CApSb3J— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) October 10, 2018