Hillside puts on a show as the British Masters shines bright for The European Tour.
English golf fans once again showed their dedication to the game, in mixed weather conditions, as over 65,000 fans poured into the picturesque Hillside Golf Club for the British Masters. Spectacular crowds descended on Southport to see Tommy Fleetwood host the 2019 event in his home town.
With only seven months’ notice to host, Hillside put on a spectacle fitting of any event looking to grab the headlines. Despite the aforementioned weather conditions, the course was always in pristine condition and it made for a superb golf tournament. The glowing reviews from players and caddies indicate just how well the course played and the weekend sunshine showed the sandhills of Southport in all their glory.
Tommy Fleetwood was the fifth host of the British Masters since the tournament was relaunched in 2015. Given his exceptional form, pre-tournament odds of 8/1 favourite were justified and he was in there pitching for most of the week. However, a final round of 73 put pay to his chances and he had to settle for a T8 finish, in the process equalling Justin Rose’s 8th place in 2016 and becoming the joint highest-host finisher. He was excellent in his flag-bearing role and was embraced with great warmth by his local crowd. He will no doubt be back to try and win the British Masters as a host in the next few years.
The British Masters 2019 was won by Marcus Kinhult. The 22-year-old is from Fiskebäckskil, a fishing community that in 2010 only 379 inhabitants. Kinhult turned pro in 2015 and finished in spectacular fashion to win his maiden European Tour title on the 18th green. Up until now Marcus has faced challenges on the tour and has only made one cut in his last seven. Kinhult was a former Junior Ryder Cup player in 2015 and a Youth Olympic silver medallist in 2014, but this was his first professional breakthrough. His previous best performance of third at the Qatar Masters in 2018 would have given him a squeak, but his current form and relative tour greenness made him an unlikely victor with pre-tournament odds of 150/1.
A brilliant first round of 65 put the young Swede in a stellar position and he continued this form with rounds of 69, 68 and 70 to fend off last year’s winner, Eddie Pepperell, and fellow chasers Matt Wallace and Rob MacIntyre.
Kinhult began the final day tied with Matt Wallace and it seemed to be a matchplay between the two of them for much of the last two days. Last year’s winner Eddie Pepperell propelled himself into contention with a six birdie-no bogey final round and this charge was matched by Robert MacIntyre.
The young Swede hit 21 birdies and an eagle over the tournament to finish on 16 under, one shot clear of the pack. What was particularly impressive was the determination Kinhult showed at the death after bogeys on 15 & 16 saw him lose his lead. The bogeys sent him into overdrive and he birdied the final two holes to beat some far more experienced players to the £500,000 first prize. We can’t help but wonder if Wallace was left with a feeling of ‘what could have been’, as he missed a four-foot putt for birdie on 17 before missing another opportunity on 18. However, Kinhult held his nerve draining a 10-footer to win the championship and etching his name on the British Masters crown.
The overall performance and staying power he displayed suggests that there could be many more European Tour titles coming his way in the next few years and this win has earnt him a career-high ranking of 112 in the world.
We are already looking forward to next year’s British Masters which will be held once again at Clouse House in Heddon-on-the-Wall, Northumberland. The course hosted the tournament in 2017 and Lee Westwood has been confirmed as the first player to host their second British Masters.
Graham Wylie, the owner of Close House, said: “It’s a big honour to bring the British Masters back to Close House next year.
"People in Newcastle and the North East region love sport and we had some great crowds in 2017, a great TV audience and some great engagement on social media, so I’m sure we will get the same again.”
Roll on The British Masters 2020.
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