It has already hosted one Ryder Cup and five editions of the European Open during its 114-year history, but top class professional golf will be returning to Walton Heath Golf Club again next year, after the renowned Surrey venue was chosen to stage the 2018 British Masters supported by Sky Sports.
The prestigious tournament, which will take place from October 11-14, was revived in 2015, following a seven-year hiatus, will be hosted by world no.5 Justin Rose, who is following in the footsteps of fellow English golfers Ian Poulter, Luke Donald and Lee Westwood in hosting the tournament.
Poulter held the honour at Woburn in 2015, Donald at The Grove last year, while Westwood hosted the event at his home club, Close House in Newcastle, this September, when Ireland’s Paul Dunne took the title.
Rose has no direct connection with Walton Heath, having grown up in Hampshire and played his club golf at North Hants, although he has long held the club’s two courses, the Old and the New, in high regard, and played many tournaments there in his amateur days.
The 37 year old, who was awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List for his contribution to golf, will further underline his status as one of the game’s leading ambassadors by hosting the 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 at Walton Heath,” said Rose. “Walton Heath is a golf course I really, really enjoy playing. I went back there 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.”
He added: “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. Hopefully I can put some of my own touches here and there and continue that success.”
The Old Course, which was designed by Herbert Fowler, measures 7,462 yards off the back tees, making it a strong test for today’s top professionals. It is likely that a composite of the two courses will be used for the tournament, although the final configuration is yet to be announced.
The tournament, which has a prize fund of £3m, is expected to draw a strong field, with Rose set to use all of his influence to attract members of the European Ryder Cup squad, who will only have finished competing in Paris just 12 days earlier, to take part.
Once again, tournament sponsor Sky Sports will be giving away 10,000 free tickets for the opening round, which takes place on Thursday October 11. Tickets will be available by clicking here from 9am, Thursday December 7, on a first come, first served basis, with tickets for the other three rounds and pro-am also on general sale.
David Newlands, Chairman of Walton Heath, said: “Walton Heath Golf Club is honoured to have been selected by the European Tour and the tournament host, Justin Rose, to be the venue for the 2018 British Masters supported by Sky Sports, thereby extending the club’s long and distinguished record of staging professional and amateur events of the highest quality. Our traditional heathland courses are amongst the finest in the world, and we are confident that the players, spectators and a global television audience will really enjoy the tournament.”
To sign up for the Sky Sports Thursday free ticket giveaway, please click here.