British Masters is the blueprint the European Tour must follow
Lee Westwood should be extremely proud of his hosting of the British Masters.
The biggest compliment I can pay is to say the event at Close House was how the tournament used to be during its pomp in the 1970s and 1980s.
To get Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia to play was a masterstroke. And the Newcastle crowds responded in record numbers.
This was the blueprint for how to hold a successful regular European Tour event, and I hope we see plenty more of them.
The entertainment was provided by the one-hole Hero Challenge on the Tuesday night and seeing the celebrities and former sports stars in Wednesday’s pro-am.
That is great, but when Thursday comes around, it’s down to business. Then it was proper golf, with a full field and a halfway cut.
All that brings the right element of competition, which spectators love.
Big crowds and star players go hand-in-hand. A top golfer wants a stage on which to showcase his talents and that’s what was on offer at the British Masters.
The buzz of performing to an audience is what gets the adrenaline flowing, and it’s when players perform at their best.
The course wasn’t the greatest in the world, but that doesn’t matter. It was right for the event it was staging.
The scoring was great, with birdies and eagles everywhere, and the action on the final day was gripping.
There was also a lovely story, with Paul Dunne holding off Rory McIlroy to claim his first professional title.
To produce a 61 in the last round, with Rory breathing down his neck, is something he will remember for a very long time.
Paul learned from past mistakes, like losing in a play-off in Morocco earlier this year and from having the 54-hole lead as an amateur in The Open at St Andrews in 2015.
Plus, he again reminded me of the importance of the short game. He got up and down at the 17th to keep his two-shot advantage over McIlroy heading to the last.
Then when he failed to find the green at the difficult par-three 18th, he holed his resultant chip to cap a memorable week.
The decision to restore the British Masters to the calendar in 2015 was the right one. Ian Poulter, Luke Donald and now Lee have been excellent hosts.
Justin Rose will do it next year and take it to a new venue. Moving it around England is vital to its continued success.
Parts of the country, like England’s North East, have been starved of professional golf in recent years, so this showed it was a great idea on Westwood’s part to stage it at Close House.
The other great idea was to get a local charity fully involved. Nearly £500,000 was raised for the Graham Wylie Foundation, which helps disadvantaged children in the Newcastle area.
That is something big on the PGA Tour and it’s very important. By having a nominated local charity, it brings a sense of community to a tournament and it’s the right thing to do.
It was all smiles from Tyrrell Hatton at Kingsbarns yesterday.