The British Masters at Woburn was a resounding triumph for Sky, says Ewen Murray
Last Updated: 15/10/15 5:48pm
Ewen Murray reflects on the phenomenal success of the return of the British Masters supported by Sky Sports, a week memorable for new innovations in golf coverage that ended with a fitting champion in Matt Fitzpatrick.
Autumn golf takes some beating in this country, especially if Mother Nature gets out on the right side of the bed, and four glorious days at Woburn heralded the return of the British Masters supported by Sky Sports.
For many years, people of my era enjoyed the World Match Play at Wentworth in the early part of October. More recently, the British Masters was played during the autumn and always closed out the European Tour season. Both were cast aside, until Sky stepped in and resurrected the latter and, quite simply, it was some comeback - a resounding success every step of the way.
Sky are steeped in sport whether it be football, cricket, rugby or Formula One. We have many talented young people, some who have unlocked their potential through our Sky Academy. With the success of that academy, many more will graduate in the years ahead.
Our golf production team is a young team with fresh ideas and bundles of energy and enthusiasm. To see what they produced at Woburn was humbling. Not only did the British Masters make a return to the Tour, it came back with a whole new look, a look that was enjoyed by more than 57,000 fans who attended and, judging by our viewers response, your experience was good too.
Several innovations were introduced throughout the week and the live Masterclasses after the round action proved extremely popular. I hope in the rounds you play in the future, you will be able to introduce some of the tips into your own games and see the benefit of them.
My colleague, Nick Dougherty, spoke to me during live play in rounds one and two. I was a little apprehensive on that one as he is out there working, but I needn't have worried.
Nick is a relaxed character and he's been a close friend for over fifteen years. His honesty shone through when I asked him what the problems were during round two. "Ewen, I've got the rights and the lefts, one I can deal with but not both".
That goes to show you, no matter what handicap you have, that even the best struggle at this game from time to time. Next time you're having a tough day in the monthly medal, remember you are probably not the only one.
My favourite innovation was the four-wheeled, remote-controlled camera that cruised the fairways bringing the action even closer to you. It gave you a sense of being right there beside the player and showed the gentle undulations of the fairway. The high cameras tend to flatten everything out.
We need a name for that machine. Andrew Coltart's idea of "toy, buggy thing" is not quite what we're looking for! It's an amazing piece of technology and deserves an innovative name and no doubt we will find one in the weeks ahead.
The host last week, Ian Poulter was exemplary in every way. He took on the role and was magnificent from start to finish. He gave his all from the moment the event was announced and carried it through to the conclusion of the tournament.
I would never make excuses, but his total involvement must have taken a percentage of his game away, yet he revelled in his tenure and should feel proud of his achievements.
Ian came into the commentary box for a stint after he had completed his four rounds and confirmed he is one of the most honest players in the game today. No excuses, just, "my game is not there and I have to go home and figure out how to get it back".
In truth, his game is not far off and he has a history of finishing the year strongly. I don't think there is anyone out there who won't be supporting him as we head towards the Final Series on the European Tour.
And then there is Woburn. I have been fortunate to play in the British Masters there and have completed several company days over the Dukes and Duchess Courses. It's a club that prides itself on presentation and excellence and over the week by the Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire borders it provided the ideal theatre for the event.
Finally, my congratulations go to the new champion, Mathew Fitzpatrick. At 21 years of age, he was the youngest player in the field and the quality of his golf gave him the reward he thoroughly deserved.
No matter what he achieves in the years ahead, he will always remember October 11, 2015. As he tapped in for his maiden victory, his mum, dad, brother, other relatives and friends were there to greet him. The joy on their faces was the perfect way to end the perfect week.