The British Masters returned to the European Tour calendar after a seven-year absence, and Richard Boxall has been looking back on a hugely successful week for Sky Sports at Woburn.
The British Masters supported by Sky Sports made a welcome return to the European Tour schedule in October and there`s no doubt it was one of the best events of the season.
It was great to see so many youngsters in the galleries at Woburn, and the crowds overall were brilliant throughout the week. To get close to 60,000 through the gates was a huge achievement and credit to everyone for turning out and supporting the event.
The tournament was always one of the biggest on the calendar and one I used to look forward to every year. The English crowds were always very supportive, and the whole week was generally one to remember.
It was guaranteed to be held at a first-rate venue, particularly Woburn, and you were also guaranteed a high-quality field and a great atmosphere. The likes of Seve, Faldo, Woosie and Lyle were regulars in the event and made it one of the most prestigious weeks of the year.
This year it worked out so well. We were lucky with the weather, but golf in England in the autumn is always something to behold. It was so nice to have a tournament back in England, and I think Sky did a great thing with the Sky Sports Thursday promotion, which attracted around 15,000 people through the gates.
That was absolutely brilliant. To make a tournament successful, you`ve got to have a good atmosphere. It would be great to have a few more, and if you could have around half-a-dozen events in England over the year, or the British Isles in general, that would be ideal.
The new innovations brought in for the Sky Sports coverage added to the popularity of the tournament, and the Marquess Course at Woburn was in fabulous condition. The greenkeepers deserve huge credit for their hard work.
Ian Poulter should also be commended for all his time and effort as tournament host, and I`m sure he relished the chance to play such a big tournament at his home course.
The British Masters moves to The Grove next October and will be hosted by Luke Donald, and I`m sure that will be every bit as successful as this year`s. I would like to see the tournament given a bigger profile and moved to mid-summer, but it`s another event in England and that is priceless.
It was a pleasure to be involved in the coverage throughout the week, and the feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive. I was lucky enough to host a couple of Q&A sessions in the Sky Dome, and these proved to be very popular with young and old alike.
On the playing side, we witnessed an enthralling four days and an excellent finish, with Matt Fitzpatrick - the youngest player in the field - claiming a well-deserved maiden victory as a professional.
He was being chased down by Shane Lowry and the evergreen Soren Kjeldsen, but a clutch par putt at 16 followed by a superb tee shot to the 17th set up a birdie and effectively put the result beyond doubt.
Matt had an unbelievable debut season, with so many top 10s and then that win at Woburn. Ben An won the BMW PGA at Wentworth and pipped Fitzpatrick to the Rookie of the Year award, although I`d have voted for Matt.
There was little to choose between them in terms of money won and their final positions in the Race to Dubai.
But Fitzpatrick`s achievement in winning the British Masters will undoubtedly spur him on to bigger and better things in 2016, and who would bet against him claiming multiple European Tour titles.
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