Aaron Rai (150/1, 7 places) has been a player that I’ve had in mind for this tournament ever since it was announced in December that the British Masters would be held here.
The Wolverhampton-born 23-year-old hasn’t quite kicked on in the way many were expecting since he graduated from the Challenge Tour last year, but he’s contended in the Hero Indian Open, BMW International Open, and more recently the Scottish Open in July.
He enters the week off the back of four straight missed cuts and in desperate need of some form.
So why is he this week’s best bet?
Firstly, Rai hasn’t been getting the results of late, but he’s hardly been playing awfully. Last week he opened with a 78 before bouncing back with consecutive 68s to miss the cut by just one shot. Even before last week, he was showing signs that he’s ready to burst back into life. At the KLM Open he sat just two shots adrift of the first round lead with a 66 before missing the cut by yet again, one shot, and it was a similar story at the Omega European Masters, with an opening round 67 offset by a 74 to miss the cut by two.
More importantly, Rai won US Open qualifying last year at Walton Heath with rounds of 66 and 64, beating the likes of Haotong Li, Alex Levy and Eddie Pepperell.
This is a layout that the two-gloved star is very comfortable with, and he has to be backed at the standout triple-figure price available.
Nicolas Colsaerts (125/1, 8 places) is another who’s had success at Walton Heath having won the 2011 qualifier here, but the Belgian is in simmering form and looks primed to win again.
The big-hitting 35-year-old finished 10th last time out in Scotland, and he’s made his last five straight cuts with top-40 finishes in all but one.
On a course that has often been described as an inland links, Colsaerts is a links specialist who knows how to cope if the wind does get up, which the early weather forecast suggests is possible.
Finally, Lee Slattery (150/1, 7 places) looks a solid each-way play.
The suave Englishman booked a US Open ticket here two years ago and looks in really good shape to go close this week.
Only a missed cut at the Made In Denmark tainted what has been an impressive five-event recent stretch of golf for Slattery, who has three top-20 finishes in that period, including a 20th spot last week when he hit the most greens in regulation across the field while hitting the third most fairways.
If he can bring that sort of tee-to-green game into this week, he could outperform his odds quite considerably.