Bernard gallacher

Bri­tish Mas­ters is the blue­print the Euro­pean Tour must fol­low

The Sunday Post (Inverness) - - FOCUS ON GOLF -

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.

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