Lee Westwood named host for 2017 British Masters at Close House
By Sky Sports Golf
Last Updated: 18/10/16 3:59pm
Lee Westwood has been announced as the tournament host for the 2017 British Masters supported by Sky Sports, with the Englishman choosing Close House, in Newcastle upon Tyne, as the venue from September 28-October 1.
It will be the first time a European Tour tournament has been held at Close House, where the Ryder Cup star has been attached as the touring professional since 2011.
Westwood succeeds Luke Donald in the role following the success of last week's event at The Grove, meaning for the second consecutive year the host of the British Masters will be a former world No 1.
"I'm delighted to announce that I will be taking over as host of the British Masters from Luke next year," said Westwood.
"I'm well connected with Close House, and I'm sure it will be a fantastic test of golf for the players coming up to the North East. The British Masters is back on the map and we should try to move it around the country a bit and let as many people as possible see it.
"Close House is not the longest golf course but it's tricky in places, quite tight, and very undulating. The wind can come in to play a lot, as you would expect in the North East. There's a little bit of water on the golf course as well, which keeps it interesting.
"I've got a few tweaks in mind for the golf course, putting a few bunkers in, taking a few out, putting a few tees in and everything is already under way. I was at the golf course the other day and you could probably hold the tournament there now. It's always in fantastic condition, so I'm sure the players will enjoy it."
Westwood was a former winner of the British Masters in the tournament's first spell on the European Tour, claiming the title at The Belfry in 2007 then narrowly missing out on defending the title 12 months later when he lost in a play-off to Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano at the same venue.
The 10-time Ryder Cup player has featured in both editions of the event since it returned to the European Tour schedule in 2015, following up his top-20 finish at Woburn with an impressive third-place at The Grove last week.
Having seen the success of Ian Poulter and Donald in the hosting role, he is looking forward to building on some of the innovations that have been introduced to appeal to a new audience, such as the Hero Challenge, a new one-hole shootout which made its debut under the lights at The Grove, and Sky Sports Thursday which offered 20,000 fans the opportunity to attend for free.
Westwood added: "I think golf needs things like that to draw in kids and people who maybe don't think that golf is the game for them. Sky Sports work hard with the European Tour all year round, and as players, we appreciate their involvement to a greater degree during British Masters week.
"It's good to see innovation and I'm sure the European Tour and Sky have a lot more in store for us next year at Close House."
European Tour chief executive officer Keith Pelley said: "We are delighted to have yet another wonderful ambassador, and another former world No 1, take on the role of tournament host and I'm certain Lee Westwood will continue the success of the British Masters supported by Sky Sports.
"Lee has been a huge part of the European Tour's success over the past 20 years, and we are all really looking forward to working with him and Sky Sports to make next year's British Masters something special. Ian and Luke have both really enjoyed the role and brought so much to the event, it will be great to take the British Masters to a different part of the country so even more fans can see the stars of the European Tour."
Barney Francis, Sky Sports Managing Director, said: "There's huge momentum behind the British Masters and it's become a really important part of the golf calendar. Everyone is working hard to encourage more people into golf and taking the event to the North East with Lee Westwood hosting, is the next chapter in that story."
Close House, a country estate near Heddon-on-the-Wall, boasts two 18-hole courses, including the Harry Colt-designed Championship Lee Westwood Colt course which will host the British Masters. Close House was also the venue for the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship in 2015, won by Australian Peter Fowler.
Owner Graham Wylie said: "We are very excited to have the British Masters next year. The North East loves its sport, but we don't get that many events, so when we do, people support them in tremendous fashion.
"To have the British Masters next year will be fantastic not just for Close House, but for the whole region. We are grateful that Sky Sports are supporting the event.
"Lee Westwood is a great ambassadors for the sport and he is our Close House Tour professional, so we are delighted he has chosen Close House to host the British Masters and we will put on a great event for him"