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Course guide

Close House is hosting the British Masters - and, indeed, a professional event - for the first time this weekend.

The par-70 course is not long at all at just 6,906 yards, and both of its par-fives will be reachable in two for the majority of players.

As a result, those who are accurate rather than long off the tee will be most rewarded.

A potentially wet weekend in Northumbria means the rough will also likely be more treacherous than usual, so hitting the fairways should be even more important than ever.

Back to win

Matthew Fitzpatrick –

Following his triumph at the European Masters earlier this month, Fitzpatrick can go back-to-back with a win at Close House.

The 23-year-old beat Scott Hend in a play-off in Switzerland after closing out with a fine round of 64, and looks in good nick heading to a course at which he’s had success before.

Unlike the majority of the field, Fitzpatrick has played, and won, at Close House in the past, having come out on top at the 2012 Junior Golf Championship.

The Englishman’s one glaring weakness – his length off the tee – shouldn’t be an issue on this relatively short track, and he’s excellent value to win again given that the other main contenders are all lacking form.

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Each-way shouts

Ian Poulter –

Poulter has finished second at the British Masters on three occasions, and his current form suggests he could go one better this weekend.

The 41-year-old has made 13 consecutive cuts – a run that started with a T2 at the Players Championship at May – and has five top-25s in his last seven starts.

He ranks 24th in total shots gained on the PGA Tour this season, despite struggling for form early on as he recovered from a foot injury, and he should fare well at Close House given that he ranks 11th in approach play and third around the greens.

Poulter’s last win came back in 2012, but he’s finished inside the top three against strong fields at two PGA Tour events this season and looks poised for another successful weekend.

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Eddie Pepperell –

Pepperell is the hottest player on the European Tour at the moment.

The world No. 198 has finished fifth, third and third again in his last three starts, and has only missed one cut in his last 11 outings (although he was disqualified at the European Open in July).

The 26-year-old ranks 24th in GIR percentage this season, which suggests his stunning run of form should continue at Close House.

He’s still yet to win on the European Tour, but that will surely change soon if he continues playing like this.

He must be backed each-way this weekend.

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Outside bet

Scott Hend –

Hend made a poor start to the year with four missed cuts in his first eight starts, but he has missed just two in 14 outings since and has hit a nice run of form in the past few weeks.

He’s finished inside the top 25 in three of his last four starts, including that play-off defeat to Fitzpatrick at the European Masters.

The Australian has spent time on the Asian and Web.com Tours this year, but his most impressive results have come when he has raised his game in high-profile events – such as his T10 at the WGC Bridgestone in August.

A two-time winner on the European Tour, he’s worth a bet at this big price.

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