Lee Westwood looking forward to hosting British Masters at Close House
Watch the first event of the UK Swing on Sky Sports. Live first-round coverage begins on Wednesday at midday on Sky Sports Golf.
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 18/07/20 7:11am
Lee Westwood believes the ban on spectators could work to his advantage as he prepares to host the Betfred British Masters at Close House next week.
Westwood was worn down by his relentless obligations as tournament host in 2017, when he admitted he "ran out of steam" during the week, although he did well to post a top-15 finish before handing over the trophy to Paul Dunne following his memorable win over Rory McIlroy.
But his duties next week will be limited by the restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and he is looking forward to devoting more time to his own game ahead of his first start since missing the cut at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March.
"I'm delighted to be hosting again," said Westwood, who began 2020 is style as he held off fellow Englishmen Tommy Fleetwood and Matt Fitzpatrick to land a two-shot victory at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship in January - his 25th victory on the European Tour.
"I did it in 2017, three years ago here at Close House, and I really enjoyed it. I learnt a lot about what goes in to running a golf tournament, so it was interesting to see things from a different perspective.
"It's a tough job and a tiring one at that. It was tough to do it that week and play golf too, I sort of ran out of steam towards the end, but it is going to be different this year. No crowds, a little less media and things like that, which will allow me to focus more time on trying to win the golf tournament this time round.
"It's great that the Betfred British Masters is the first event to kick off the UK Swing. Betfred have been an incredible sponsor, they have stuck with us all though it, and they are very excited to be involved again this year.
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"My preparation has gone well. The first few weeks we were in lockdown and we weren't allowed to play golf, so I had a big break from it then but since golf courses have opened up again and we are able to get back out on the golf course, I have played most days, probably three or four times a week.
"I have played a lot of golf of late and certainly no one will have played the golf course as much as I have."
Next week's tournament will also be a significant landmark for Miguel Angel Jimenez as he equals Sam Torrance's long-standing record of 706 appearances on the European Tour.