ADOPTED Geordie Lee Westwood is looking forward to becoming the first player to host the Betfred British Masters on two occasions when the European Tour event returns to Close House near Newcastle upon Tyne this summer.
Westwood has enjoyed an impressive start to 2020, winning the season’s first Rolex Series event, the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship presented by EGA last month, to claim his 25th European Tour title.
The former World No. 1 is back inside the top 30 on the Official World Golf Rankings and currently leads the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.
Westwood previously hosted the British Masters at Close House in 2017, when nearly 70,000 fans came out to support the event as the European Tour visited the North East of England for the first time in 15 years.
Following that successful edition, the Betfred British Masters will return to the venue – where Ireland’s Paul Dunne chipped in on the final hole to finish three shots clear of four-time Major Champion Rory McIlroy, for his maiden European Tour title.
“I’m really looking forward to hosting the Betfred British Masters again,” said Westwood, who follows Tommy Fleetwood in the role.
“I had a great time hosting it in 2017. You are busy during the week and it is hard work as you haven’t just got golf to concentrate on.
“You have to consider other things like keeping sponsors happy and different publicity things, but it is great fun.
“Last time it was a succesful tournament and hopefully it will be again,” said Westwood, who played junior golf for Nottinghamshire, while a member at Worksop, but who now lives in the Newcastle area.
“I think we got it pretty much right last time. We had a great turnout,” added Westwood.
“Obviously it is earlier in the year this time so hopefully the weather will be better in July/August time.
“We’ve also made a few alterations to the golf course. So hopefully that will be even better, and hopefully the north east people will turn out as they always do.
“I’m sure it will be well supported again and there will be another great atmosphere.
“Whether it is the football team or the Great North Run, they always come out in their droves up there.
“It makes a massive difference if there are a lot of people there creating an atmosphere.”
Westwood finished tied 15th when the British Masters was played at Close House three years ago.
And after his strong start to the season, Close House’s touring professional is targeting a second British Masters title following his first victory at The Belfry, in 2007.
“Winning in Abu Dhabi was great. I didn’t really know what to expect going into the week.
“I hadn’t really practised that much but I got my game together and pretty sharp very quickly.
“I played well and controlled my emotions well and felt comfortable on the golf course and started holing some putts.
“It was nice to be out there relaxed with things going my way.
“My name is on the British Masters trophy once already so it would be nice to add another one, especially with it being at Close House, which is a home tournament for me.
“I’m looking forward to it very much and I’ll be trying to play well that week and get some of that home support behind me.”
Tickets are already selling quickly for the Betfred British Masters’ return to Close House.
Lee’s praise for Close House owner
WESTWOOD has paid tribute to the role of the venue’s owner Graham Wylie, not only for the helping the event to head back to the North East.
Wylie makes a much wider contribution to the region and received a knighthood in the New Year’s Honour’s list.
“Graham’s knighthood was very well deserved,” said Westwood. “He does an incredible amount for charity and people in that the north east, in Newcastle and the surrounding areas.
“It was great that he was knighted. It’s a bit strange calling him Sir Graham now but I’m getting used to it!”
Westwood’s win in Abu Dhabi took him to four European Tour wins in his 40s, and at the age of 46 he is tied alongside Colin Montgomerie and Bernhard Langer, who both went on to captain Europe in the Ryder Cup.
Only Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, who has 11 victories after turning 40, will be ahead of the “Worksop Wonder” if he can find that fifth win in his 40s by the end of the Betfred British Masters tournament.
•Tickets and hospitality for the 2020 Betfred British Masters at Close House are on sale now by clicking here.