Ahead of his first time as British Masters host, Lee Westwood has hailed an ‘incredible’ field set to turn up at Close House Golf Club this week.
“It’s an incredible field really, it’s never easy to find the right date for a lot of the lads to come but Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy and many others [are taking part],” Westwood told Sky Sports News.Embed from Getty Images
“It’s had great support from British and European players, I couldn’t have asked for a better field.”
The British Masters, and European Tour for that matter, has typically struggled to consistently attract star-studded fields but Westwood can take pride in the quality of names he’s attracted to Newcastle-upon-Tyne this week.
World-number-six Rory McIlroy headlines the field despite a poor run of form and is joined by the likes of Masters-champ Sergio Garcia, defending-champion Alex Noren, his predecessor Matthew Fitzpatrick as well as many European Tour front-runners including Martin Kaymer, Chris Wood, Russell Knox, Bernd Wiesberger and Tyrrell Hatton.Embed from Getty Images
The only dampener on the field outlook, perhaps, is the withdrawal of the Race to Dubai leader Tommy Fleetwood as he stays home in anticipation of the arrival of his first baby this week. There’s no leader in the field, but six of the Race to Dubai’s top 10 are to tee it up.Embed from Getty Images
Noren is not the only previous champion of this event who will make a return this year; Fitzpatrick (2015), host Westwood (2007), Johan Edfors (2006) and Thomas Bjørn (2005) are all set to make an appearance this week.
Last time out Noren took home his third of four titles in the space of four months amidst an electric run that propelled him into the world top 10. A final round 69 was enough to see off another in-form rival in Wiesberger by two shots.
A challenge for Westwood himself this year is to produce quality golf despite the constant distractions that come part-and-parcel of being tournament host. It hasn’t worked out too well for hosts in the past two years as Ian Poulter finished tied 33rd and Luke Donald failed to make the cut.
It will probably come in handy for the 44-year-old, though, that he’s picked a venue which boasts two of his own courses: the Lee Westwood Colt Course and the Lee Westwood Filly Course. The Colt Course will stage this weeks event, the first significant tour event it ever has.Embed from Getty Images
It is a measly 6906 yard par-70 that the players will battle on this week. The two par fives only measure an average of 519 yards and there are five par fours under 400 yards. But what it lacks in distance it more than makes up for in undulations and narrow gaps. The course opened in 2011 and was immediately voted in the UK’s top 100 golf courses. To put it simply, its bite is certainly bigger than its bark.
Regardless of his own golfing performance this week, Westwood can be proud that he’s attracted the best field this event has seen in years and has raised its profile significantly after a six-year hiatus from tour life.