More than 60,000 people attended The British Masters Supported by Sky Sports, won by Ireland’s Paul Dunne chipping in on the 72nd hole to hold off four-time Major Champion Rory McIlroy.
Over the four days attendance at Close House topped 60,000, comfortably ahead of Woburn in 2015 (57,047) and The Grove in 2016 (53,066). This does not include the more than 4,000 fans who packed the grandstand around the par three, 18th hole on the evening of Tuesday 26th September for the third staging of the Hero Challenge, played under floodlights and broadcast on Sky Sports.
Tournament host Lee Westwood was rightly proud of the success of the 2017 British Masters supported by Sky Sports and the decision to take the European Tour golf back to the north east of England for the first time in 15 years proved an inspired one, with 68,298 people attending the event across the six day period.
They were treated to some superb entertainment, with highlights including Westwood’s victory in Tuesday night’s Hero Challenge. This was a fitting way to round-off Westwood’s role as tournament host, with McIlroy and Masters Champion Sergio Garcia among the star names who came out to join the Englishman in the field and celebrate a player who has made an immense contribution to European golf, winning 23 times on the European Tour and playing in 10 Ryder Cups.
“I think it’s been a great week,” said Westwood. “We had a really exciting finish with Paul winning and the whole tournament was great. We had nearly 70,000 people come along and support us. I think that’s brilliant. It’s the best attendance since we’ve brought the tournament back. I’m delighted with that but I had a funny feeling people in the north east would support it well.”
As well as helping to assemble a top class field, Westwood played a major role in the promotion of the tournament, making an appearance at St James’ Park during the halftime break in the Newcastle v West Ham Premier League match alongside former Magpies striker Andrew Cole, and hitting balls into a floating green in the shadow of the Tyne Bridge.
“I’ve enjoy being the tournament host,” said the former World Number One, who has been attached to Close House since 2011. “It gave me another view of a tournament and an appreciation of what goes on leading up to a tournament and during the tournament. Special thanks to Graham Wylie and his team at Close House for doing fantastic job and the European Tour for putting a great event on. I’m glad I did it and hopefully everybody had a good time.
“The Hero Challenge on Tuesday was a nice way to start the week off with bit of fireworks, and there have been great things going on all week with the Junior Masters, the Pro-Am, the Race night on Friday – it’s been a packed week and successful one with a fantastic finish.”
Aside from the golf itself, the tournament also left a lasting legacy in the Newcastle region, raising £472,500 for the official charity, the Graham Wylie Foundation, of which Westwood is a patron. The money will help educate and inspire children and young people of the north east, with the funds raised specifically being used to build a music therapy centre in Newcastle.