Much of the 132-player field will be feasting their eyes on Close House for the first time this week. Not Lee Westwood.
Westwood is acting as tournament host and is Close House’s attached professional. He had influence in the design and improvement of Colt and the club’s other 18-hole track, Filly.
Westwood has played and practiced here often, even competing at Close House’s members pairs knockout and the club championship.
The 44-year-old Englishman from Worksop, about 140 miles north south of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, will be a fan favorite who’s dazzled the galleries in the past. Westwood took third behind Alex Noren and Bernd Wiesberger last year at The Grove and won at The Belfry in 2007.
In eight British Masters starts going back to 1995, Westwood has made the weekend six times with a runner-up in 2008 and a T8 in 2001.
Forgive me if you’ve heard this before, but the key for Westwood this week will be the putter. He’s still hitting the ball flush well into his 40s, but his work around the greens has kept him out of the winner’s circle since 2015.
Westwood is outside the top 100 on the European Tour in putts per round and putts per GIR. You’d think he’ll have a leg up on the greens this week, though, based on his unmatched familiarity with Close House.
He’s close to putting all the pieces together as evidenced by a T3 in his last start two weeks ago at the KLM open and a T9 four weeks ago at the Czech Masters.
I like Westwood to make a good host en route to making his seventh cut in a row and perhaps a second British Masters title.