England Golf ambassador Justin Rose has been announced as the tournament host for the 2018 British Masters supported by Sky Sports, with the Olympic Champion choosing Walton Heath, in Surrey, as the venue from October 11-14.
To celebrate, the European Tour and Sky Sports are once again giving away 10,000 free tickets for the opening round, which takes place on Thursday 11 October 2018, with the return of Sky Sports Thursday.
Sky Sports Thursday has been a hugely popular part of the success of the British Masters supported by Sky Sports since the tournament returned to the European Tour’s schedule in 2015 after an absence of seven years, helping to attract new audiences to the Race to Dubai event.
Similarly, the tournament host concept has helped bring a new dimension to the tournament, with Ian Poulter, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood taking on the role over the past three years. Like Westwood, Rose is a former British Masters champion, having won the title in 2002 when he held off his close friend Poulter – who hosted the tournament on its return to the European Tour in 2015 – in a memorable battle at Woburn.
Rose has enjoyed a stellar career since that victory, becoming the first Englishman in 33 years to win the US Open in 2013, before claiming the gold medal on golf’s return to the Olympic Games in Rio last year. He has continued that form into the current season, finishing runner-up at the Masters Tournament in April and winning back-to-back events on the European Tour in the autumn, in the WGC-HSBC Champions and the Turkish Airlines Open, as he pushed Tommy Fleetwood all the way in the Race to Dubai.
The 37 year old was awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List for his contribution to golf – an honour he received at Buckingham Palace in October. He will further underline his status as one of the game’s leading ambassadors by hosting next year’s British Masters at a venue he believes will be a popular choice amongst his peers.
“I’m very excited to be hosting the British Masters supported by Sky Sports at Walton Heath in 2018,” said Rose. “Walton Heath is a golf course I really, really enjoy playing, in fact I love it. I went back to Walton Heath in the summer just to ensure I wanted to take the tournament there and I had forgotten how good a golf course it is.
“It has got teeth but it is traditional and hopefully the players will really enjoy it. Hopefully we will assemble a strong field, get some good weather and we can host an amazing tournament next October.
“It’s a huge honour to host the British Masters and to follow in the footsteps of three friends of mine, Ian, Luke and Lee. I’ve known for a while that I was next in line to host in 2018, so I’ve been watching carefully to see how the boys have done the hosting role.
“They’ve all done a great job and put their own stamp on it, and their own personality on it. They’ve all been very successful and the crowds have been great. This tournament has really created its own identify on the European Tour. The guys have left a pretty good blueprint for me. Hopefully I can put some of my own touches here and there and continue that success.”
Rose’s victory in the British Masters may have been 15 years ago, but it holds some profound personal memories for him.
“The British Masters is a tournament that is special to me,” he said. “It is a tournament I won in 2002 and it was the only event my dad was able to be there to see me win as a pro, so from that point of view it has always had fond memories for me.
“My dad had been battling leukaemia for a while and had gone into remission and then relapsed. I knew he was having a tough time, so I don’t know where I got the strength from to play that type of golf. Maybe that’s where, from him, to show him I was going to be successful after a tough start to my professional career. I’m very grateful that I was able to win and justify all his belief and faith in me as he was my biggest supporter and advocate.”
Image copyright Getty Images