Host Westwood hoping for success on two fronts at British Masters

Lee Westwood.
Lee Westwood.

Worksop golf star Lee Westwood will this week be hoping to impress on two fronts in the British Masters at Northumberland’s Close House Golf Club.

It will be the first time a European Tour event has been held at the 22-year-old course at Heddon-on-the-Wall where Ryder Cup player Westwood has been Close House tour pro since 2011.

So all eyes will be on his own hosting of the overall event as well as his performance on the course.

“I’m delighted the week has finally arrived,” said Westwood.

“It’s been a fairly long road in the making, trying to get everything together.

“I knew I was going to be the host of it three years ago. So there’s been a lot of thought and planning gone into it.

“Obviously I’ve been involved more than I would normally at a tournament and it’s given me a great appreciation of what goes into it, the hard work of The European Tour and investment of time and staff that come along a year in advance to sort everything out.”

He added: “It’s great that it’s now here and the course is looking fantastic. Now it will be nice to get back to being a golfer

“I have started hitting the ball really well. My game is definitely trending, if you like using that word, in the right direction.

“I’ll have probably played it more than most. There is a bit of course knowledge, but I have to rein that in really.”

Westwood is delighted with the quality of golfers he has managed to attract.

“We’ve got a great field together. I don’t know whether it’s me, the reason why the players have turned out, but if it is then that’s fantastic,” he smiled.

“It’s very nice for me. The likes of Sergio (Garcia) don’t play in Britain very often; committing so far in advance so we could use him in the promotion of the event.

“All of the great players that have turned out - the likes of José Maria Olazábal and Miguel Ángel Jiménez and the good players currently like Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter playing is obviously great for the tournament. It should create a great atmosphere.

“It’s brilliant they are coming up to the North East and Newcastle to play what is a prestigious event, and it’s around a golf course that I’m attached to. I can’t believe how good a field it is.”

Close House owner Graham Wylie said: “We are very excited to have the British Masters.

“The North East loves its sport, but we don’t get that many events, so when we do, people support them in tremendous fashion.”

Westwood, who finished third behind Alex Noren at The Grove on Sunday, already has experience of winning in the North East.

He triumphed at Slaley Hall in 2000 and is also a previous winner of the British Masters, having won at the Belfry in 2007.

The 2017 event is a little earlier than usual in the European Tour calendar, running from 28th September to 1st October.

The British Masters first took place in 1946, and was played at a variety of different venues before finding a regular home at Woburn.

But, after spending six years in the Midlands, first at the Forest of Arden, then at the Belfry, it then spent six years off the Tour calendar before returning to Woburn in 2015.

This year, other than the annual PGA Championship at Wentworth, it was the only European Tour event played in England.